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Charles H. Hull 

3 1924 092 898 190 

Date Due 

f !IH Ii.1 i nl <UU>>7^ T< 

Date Due 


The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



From a portrait by Thomas Sully owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 
portraits of >ckson are probably the best. For a list see Hart, C. H., 
Thomas Sully's Register of Portraits, page 89 






Professor of History in Smith College 



"If you would preserve your reputation, or that of 
the state over which you preside, you must take 
a straightforward determined course; regardless of the 
applause or censure of the populace, and of the fore- 
bodings of that dastardly and designing crew who, 
at a time like this, may he expected to clamor 
continually in your ears." — Jackson to Governor 
Blount, 1813. 

Garden City New York 








copYBiaaT. igii, by doubleday, page t, coupahy 



Probably the first person to take thought of a hfe of Andrew 
Jackson was Jackson himself. His letters show that he began 
to preserve material for his biographer from the time he became 
a pubUc personage. The drafts of the letters he wrote, the letters 
he received, and his simplest public papers were carefully filed 
away in boxes. Some of the papers were endorsed, "To be kept 
for the historian." They became numerous with the wars 
against the Creeks and the British, his first great achievements; 
and out of that phase of Ufe came his first biography. To Major 
John Reid, military aide, faithful companion in the darkest hours 
of trial, author of many of Jackson's mihtary papers, and a man 
of real abiUty — as his book shows — was entrusted the task 
of preparing this story. He carried the narrative through the 
Creek war before it was interrupted by death in 1816. Jackson 
was concerned to find a man to complete the work, and at 
last hit upon John H. Eaton, then a promising young lawyer 
whose industry was so great that the book was placed before the 
public in 181 7. Its origin, progress, and completion were all 
under the direct oversight of Jackson himself. Eaton brought 
out a second edition m 1828, with chapters bringing the story 
down to date. It was not a critical work, but the parts which 
had no bearing on the political campaigns of 1824 and 1828 were 
well written. Reid particularly recommends himself as a 
straightforward historian. 

Jackson's political career brought forth a plentiful crop of 
biographies, all of which are mentioned in the exhaustive preface 
to Parton's "Life of Jackson." Some praised him and some 


condemned, but none were satisfactory. Meantime, the col- 
lection of letters and official documents was ever growing, and 
other men, ambitious of renown or of Jackson's favor, aspired 
to write a comprehensive biography. First it was James Gadsden, 
who was assured in 1822 that he should have the coveted oppor- 
timity. Why he gave it up does not appear. He was from 
South Carolina, a friend of Calhoun, and went into occultation 
when that statesman ceased to be chief lieutenant of the demo- 
cratic leader. That of itself would have made his literary hopes 
impossible. Next, Major Henry Lee, of eminent Viriginia 
lineage, and a ready poUtical writer, got the promise. He actu- 
ally began the task, but fell from favor in 1829 when charged 
with such grave personal immorality that he could no longer be 
coimtenanced. He was rejected by the senate for an imimpor- 
tant consulate, and turned against Jackson. It was with some 
difficulty that he was induced to give up the forty pages he had 
finished of the proposed book. 

Other aspirants were Roger B. Taney, George Bancroft, and 
Amos Kendall. The last was given the promise of the papers. He 
began to write in 1842, when he had lost the auditorship to which 
his patron appointed him. He was then poor financially and 
expected large returns from his venture. He began to publish 
it in parts, announcing that fifteen would complete the enterprise. 
Jackson placed the entire collection of papers at his disposal, 
and two visits to the "Hermitage" gave fair opportunity to 
get all it contained. He carried away to Washington many of 
the most important papers and had not returned them when 
Jackson died in 1845. His work was interrupted when seven 
instalments had appeared, and it was not completed. Jackson 
was not pleased with the numbers which he saw, but did not 
withdraw the papers. There was a plan on foot to build a Jackson 
memorial in Washington, and he desired them to be handed 
over by Kendall, when he had finished with them, to Frank P. 


Blair to hold until the memorial was completed, when they 
were to be deposited there. The least valuable of the collection 
were not taken to Washington by Kendall, and these went to 
Blair from Jackson himself. Later Kendall turned over a part 
of those in hand to Blair, but the latter complained that the 
most valuable were not delivered. Blair also said that Kendall 
would yet publish a life of Jackson, written to glorify the writer 
of it; and he intended to charge his sons to write a true biography 
which would counteract the errors he expected to be in Kendall's. 
This, so far as the letters show, is all the basis that existed for 
the assertion that Blair was to write the life. 

Kendall died in 1869 and Blair in 1876. They had long been 
estranged, and neither had the impulse to write the authentic 
book which Jackson contemplated. Meanwhile, James Parton, 
the most successful American biographer of his day, undertook 
the task. Blair gave him all encouragement, but he seems to 
have had none from Kendall. His first volume appeared in 
1859 and was followed by the second and third in i860. It 
had the failings and the good qualities of its author. It dwelt 
on the personaUty of Jackson, emphasized the striking traits 
of his character, and paid little attention to the general history 
of the period. It gained much in interest by this process, and the 
interest was not abated by the large number of letters which 
Parton included. And as long as he was concerned with the 
early life of the subject, in which the action was chiefly personal, 
the result was mostly good. But in regard to Jackson's political 
career, the most important phase of the book for the historical 
student, the treatment was wholly unsatisfactory. Parton had 
no sympathy for Jackson's political ideal. He had, to begin with, 
little sense of the historic forces of the period. Jackson, the 
party builder and the centre of as tense a group of political agents 
as we have had, made a slight impression on him. And, failing 
to get this point of view, Parton ceased to have a correct view 


of the personality of his subject. Long accustomed to the denun- 
ciations and ridicule which educated men of the day cast at 
Jackson, his mind seems to have had a singular reaction. He 
would not accept them as applicable to the motives of his sub- 
ject, but he accepted charges as facts and disposed of them with 
a smile. Under his touch President Jackson became the great, 
blustering, ignorant, well-intentioned, and always amusing doer 
of most of the poUtically bad things of the day. In this sense 
his biography did not meet the need; and the work remained to 
be done by another. 

Several excellent writers have undertaken the same task in 
later years. I have not the hardihood to criticize any of them. 
But I cannot fail to express admiration for the succinct and 
calm treatment in Professor Svunner's book and for the remark- 
ably clear and balanced portrait in the small volvmie by Mr. 
William Garrott Brown. Neither was meant for a comprehen- 
sive presentation of Jackson's career, and the recent disclosure 
of much manuscript material made it possible to write a 
more intimate and complete biography than either undertook 
to produce. My own task has been to examine these newer 
sources with an eye to a larger treatment, and to give the story 
its legitimate setting in the general history of the country. These 
sources exist in several collections of manuscripts. 

The first is what remains of Jackson's own collection. After 
the death of Frank P. Blair, sr., it went to his son, Montgomery 
Blair, a member of Lincoln's and Johnson's cabinets, and after 
his death in 1883 passed into the hands of his children, Mrs. 
Minna Blair Richey, and Messrs. Montgomery, jr., Gist, and 
Woodbury Blair. It remained for many years at the home of 
Montgomery Blair, sr., at Silver Springs, Maryland, and in 
1903 was presented by the owners to the Library of Congress, 
with the stipulation that it be classified, filed, and preserved 
for the use of historical students. As an expression of apprecia- 


tion of the generosity of the donors the Library has called it 
"The Montgomery Blair Collection." Historians have cited 
it by the briefer title of "Jackson Mss. " and that term has been 
used in the foot-notes in the present work. I cannot refrain 
from acknowledging my indebtedness to Mr. Montgomery Blair, 
jr., and his wife for many courtesies in connection with the use 
of the papers, and for much help which I have been permitted 
to receive from their inteUigent knowledge of the contents. 
Their interest in preserving them and making them accessible 
to historians demands the gratitude of every student of the 
Jacksonian period. 

It is not possible to say how much was withheld from the col- 
lection by Kendall, since the destruction of his papers by fire 
about twenty years ago disposed of most of those in his pos- 
session. The collection is not fidl for the two presidential terms 
of Jackson. It is a fair inference that Jackson had many papers 
for that period, and since they are not found it is probable these 
were retained. But on this phase of his career contemporary 
criticism was so fierce that the light has been fairly abimdant. 
Here, too, we have much information in the papers of con- 
temporary politicians, particularly in those of Van Buren, who 
was closely associated with the minor leaders of his party. 

Before fire destroyed the KendaU papers a portion of them, 
it is not possible to say how many, came into the hands of 
W. G. Terrell, a Washington newspaper man, who disposed of 
them in various ways. Some were pubUshed in the Cincinnati 
Commercial, February 4, 5, and 10, 1879. These were sixty- 
nine letters from Jackson to Kendall and cover the period from 
September 4, 1827, to May 20, 1845, the entire acquaintance of 
the two men. They are most complete from 1832 to 1835. 
It is possible that some of these letters were from the Jackson 
collection, although all were conceivably the property of Kendall. 
In 1909 Hon. John Wesley Gaines, member of congress from 


Tennessee, purchased other papers which had been in Terrell's 
possession and came from Kendall. Mr. Gaines presented them 
to Mrs. Rachael J. Lawrence, daughter of Andrew Jackson, 
jr. Among them were several which must have been secured by 
Kendall from Jackson. The most unportant were published 
in the Nashville Tennesseean, April i8 and 25, 1909. 

Some other smaller collections of Jackson letters exist. The 
Tennessee Historical Society owns one collection, and a complete 
list of its contents is pubUshed m the American Magazine of 
History (Nashville), volume vi., pp. 330-334. The most impor- 
tant pieces are pubUshed in full in the same journal. Many 
letters from Jackson to W. B. Lewis are in the Ford collection 
in the New York PubHc Library, some of which have been pub- 
lished in the Bulletin of the library. Through the courtesy of 
Mr. Worthington C. Ford and Mr. GaiUard Hvmt, his successor 
as chief of the manuscripts division of the Library of Congress, 
I have been able to satisfy myself of the value of other smaller 
and more personal collections. 

Of the papers not primarily Jackson's the most important 
are in the Van Buren collection in the Library of Congress. 
It contains few letters by Van Buren, for it was not his habit 
to leave an exact record of transactions. Late in life he asked 
Jackson to return his letters, and the master of the "Hermitage" 
complied. Van Buren gave as his reason the desire to use them 
in an autobiography he was preparing. The missives in ques- 
tion were doubtless destroyed, since they do not appear in the 
Van Buren collection, nor are there traces of them or the use 
of them in the unpublished autobiography which survives. 
A few remain in the Jackson papers, probably overlooked when 
the rest went back to the writer of them. On the other hand, 
Van Buren did not mind keeping the correspondence of his 
friends. A large collection survives in which are many letters 
from the leading politicians of the day. Men who were in awe 



of Jackson, or who represented other factions than his, were in 
communication with the cool and shrewd New Yorker, whose 
philosophy was to keep on personal terms with any man whom 
he might some day need for a friend. Another valuable series 
is the W. B. Lewis letters In the Ford collection in the New York 
Pubhc Library. 

It was Jackson's habit to write his letters in draft, leaving his 
secretaries to make the fair copies which were actually sent to 
correspondents. The originals were carefully filed and are 
numerously preserved. The Blair heirs placed in the collection 
before it went to the Library of Congress many originals from 
him to their grandfather, of which no drafts or copies were made. 
Besides these, the Jackson papers contain many unimportant 
docimients. Business letters, formal notes from strangers, 
1 dinner invitations, morning reports of regiments at New Orleans, 
; and letters from admirers begging for locks of his hair were treas- 
i ured with as much care as the correspondence of his most promi- 
nent party associates. This lack of discernment in reference 
tto the source of information of the future biography witnesses 
> how seriously he considered the task he was leaving to the his- 
t torian. Van Buren and Lewis showed more discrimination and 
i weeded out tmimportant matter. In the Atlantic Monthly, 
volume 95, page 217, there is a valuable description of "The 
Jackson and Van Buren Papers" from the pen of Mr. James 
Schouler, the historian. 

These manuscripts are the best portrayers of Jackson. They 
reveal faithfully a man who was great, spite of many limitations. 
He was badly educated, he was provincial, his passions fre- 
quently overcast judgment, he had a poor concept of a proper 
adjustment of the administrative machine, and he clung tena- 
ciously to some of the worst political ideals of the past; yet he 
i was so well endowed by nature that he broke over these impedi- 
: ments and became a man of distinction. He belonged to the 


class of strong personalities in which are Bismarck, Wellington, 
WaUenstein, and Julius Caesar. He was untaught in books and 
to a large extent unteachable, but through native ability he solved] 
the greatest problems from the standpoint of the light within him. 
His ideals were absorbed from the frontier environment: had he 
been placed by nature in other surroundings, for example, 
the society of some older commimity, he must stUl have been 
a marked man, possibly a leader equally effective in the life 
around him. But it was his to represent a new community which 
reckoned little with the finer points of intelligent experience. 
He voiced the best thought of the frontier, which happened to 
be the average thought of the older parts of America of his day. 
His Western ideals were for him the only ideals. They gave 
him his battle-cry, which, when once uttered, found support in 
the hearts of average Arnericans everywhere; and this was the 
secret of the Jacksonian movement. 

Nor was he altogether dependent for position on his military 
renown, which only served to call attention to quaUties which on 
the battlefield or in the political arena were the real Jackson. 
He persisted as a politician quite independently of the admira- 
tion men had for his achievements as a warrior. Taylor, Scott, 
and Grant were also military heroes whose soldierly quaUties 
thrust them into the political field, where their well-earned laurels 
faded. In Jackson's case the soldier's wreath blossomed and 
grew until political achievement became the chief part of his 

It has been my object to show in the faithful story of his 
life the exact trace he left in the nation's history. I have not 
slighted his failings or his virtues; and I have tried to refrain 
from warping the judgment of the reader by passmg upon his 
actions. I have sought, also, to present a true picture of the 
political manipulations which surrounded him and in which he 
was an important factor. I can hardly hope to have performed 


either task with universal satisfaction. I am conscious that 
errors of judgment and misapprehension of facts may have 
clouded the effort on either or both sides; but as each little may 
serve to lead the human mind to a clearer realization of truth, 
so I venture to hope that this Ufe may be a contribution to a 
better knowledge of the complex period with which it deals. For 
the errors of either kind I beg the reader's generous indulgence. 

I must add an expression of my gratitude to many friends of 
learning for abundant aid in the work I have done. To Messrs. 
Herbert Putnam, Worthington C. Ford, and GaiUard Hunt, of 
the Library of Congress, I am especially indebted for kindnesses 
which went far beyond the requirements of professional service. 
I have received valuable aid from Mr. WUberforce Eames, of 
the New York Public Library; Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery Blair, 
of Silver Springs, Maryland; Miss E. Estella Davies, of Nashville; 
Mr. Edward Biddle, of Philadelphia; Mr. George W. Cable, 
Dr. John H. Hildt, and Mr. Henry B. Hinckley, of Northampton, 
Massachusetts; Professor R. C. H. Catterall, of Cornell Univer- 
sity; Mrs. J. Lindsay Patterson, of Winston-Salem, North Car- 
olina; Mr. William Beer, of New Orleans; Professor Frederic W. 
Moore, of Vanderbilt University; and many others whose interest 
and encouragement have been as valuable as more material 
assistance. I save for my last mentioned and best gratitude the 
personal help of my wife, Jessie Lewellin Bassett, through the 
tedious years of labor which my task has demanded. 

Northampton, Massachusetts, J. S. B. 

September 23, 1910. 


CHAPTER Volume I p^pj. 

I. Early Years 3 

II. Early Career in Tennessee 15 

III. Early Public Service 25 

IV. Jackson and Burr 37 

V. Early Quarrels and Other Adventures ... 55 

VI. Early Military Career 73 

VII. Affairs at Fort Strother 88 

VIII. The Creeks Subdued 109 

IX. Operations Around Mobile, 18 14 126 

X. The Defenses of New Orleans 144 

XI. A Christmas "Fandango" 161 

XII. January the Eighth, 18 15 182 

XIII. New Orleans Under Martial Law 208 

XTV. Crushing the Seminoles in Florida 233 

XV. The Seminole War in Relation to Diplomacy and 

Politics 265 

XVI. Governor of Florida 294 

XVII. The Presidential Campaign of 1824 . . . . 322 

KIVIII. Election by the House of Representatives . . 350 


Andrew Jackson in 1829. From a portrait by 

Thomas Sully Frontispiece 


The Hermitage 44 

Mrs. Rachael Donelson Jackson, Wife of Andrew Jackson 122 

Andrew Jackson in 18 15. From a miniature on ivory by 
Jean Francois Vall6e 222 



fackson's Operations in the Creek Comitry and Aroxmd 
MobHe, 1813-1814 88 

Dperations of the American and British Armies near 
New Orleans 176 




In the years immediately following the Treaty of Paris, 1763, 
the western parts of Virginia and the Carolinas were filled with 
vast pioneer enterprises. Along the roads which ran southward 
from the Potomac to the Dan, Yadkin, and Catawba, toiled 
many trains of immigrant wagons, and from Charleston to the 
upper valley region of South Carolina another throng of settlers 
was ever traveling. They all sought the red uplands, where 
rich meadows bordered a thousand creeks and brooks. Before 
this host primitive nature quickly gave way. Their axes 
soon sang triumphantly through many square miles of oak and 
pine land, their cattle drove the deer from the rich canebrakes, 
their corn fields began to nod saucily at the retreating forests, 
and homesteads and orchards announced the advent of the white 
man's civiUzation. 

The people came from several sources. Scotch-Irish pre- 
dominated, but Germans were numerous, and there were many 
who belonged to that roving frontier class which, already sep- 
arated from their Old-World moorings, had acquired the right 
to be called "American." It is convenient to classify them by 
their religious association, since rehgion was one of their earliest 
concerns. The Scotch-Irish were Presbyterians almost to a man; 
and their arrival was quickly followed by itinerant preachers, 
meeting-houses, and organized congregations. The Germans 
were Moravians, Lutherans, and Gerjnan Reformers. Of the 
others many were Baptists, some were Quakers, and many 
more were of the class who care little for creed or parson. 


Some of the best land in all this region was that which the 
Catawba Indians had occupied from the days of early colonial 
settlement. It lay on the Catawba River at the point where 
it crosses the North Carolina boundary line and south oi 
Mecklenburg County in the upper province. By the middle 
of the eighteenth century this land was open for settlement. 
It passed the ordinary course with good land, first into the hands 
of speculators, then into the possession of small holders, and 
fmally after many transfers among these purchasers into the 
hands of a permanent body of prosperous settlers. 

A little north of the point where the state line turns to pass 
around the old Indian reservation it is cut by Waxhaw Creek, 
which rises in North Carolina and flows westward to the Catawba, 
Its adjacent lands are particularly desirable, and they attracted 
a thrifty and valuable class of immigrants. Most of them were 
from the North of Ireland, and the Waxhaw Meeting-House, 
which they built soon after their arrival, was one of the mosi 
noted early landmarks of the Catawba VaUey. 

Among the people whom the wagon trains from Charlestor 
brought to this place in 1765 were Andrew Jackson, Elizabeth 
his wife, and their two sons, Hugh and Robert. They were pooi 
people from the neighborhood of Carrickfergus. The husband 
was probably of the Irish tenant class, and the wife is said tc 
have been a weaver both before and after her marriage.' Wit! 

* "A memorandum preserved by Jackson among his papers and without evidence of its reliability assert 
that there were four brothers in Ireland by the name of Jackson each of whom occupied as freeholdei 
*'a large farm." Andrew, the youngest, lived near Castlereagh and sold his property in 1765, and wen 
to America where he landed at Charleston, S. C, and removed to the back country. All of these Jacksons 
it declared, were devoted to the Established Kirk of Scotland and were noted for their hospitality. Castlereag] 
is about one hundred and twenty-five miles from Carrickfergus whence Jackson and Crawford sailed fo: 
America. One brother — his name is not given — lived at Ballynisca, in the parish of Car-Donnell and wa 
father of Samuel Jackson, who became senior partner in the Philadelphia firm of Jackson and Bayard, witl 
whom William Patterson, of Baltimore, lived when a youth. Another brother, name not given, lived a 
Knockn^goney, parish of .Holywood, and his daughter married James Suffem, of New York, a brother 
'John Sufffem, a prominent state politician. The fourth brother, whose name is not mentioned, lived a 
Bally Willy, parish of Bangor, and was called "Laird Jackson." This memorandum could have been prepare* 
after the appearance of Reid's book, and there is an evident purpose to enhance Jackson's social standing 
He endorsed most of his papers, but nothing appears on this. 


them came James Crawford and his wife, a sister of EUzabeth 
Jackson. Another sister had already come to the neighborhood, 
and her husband, George McKemy, bought land on the North 
CaroHna side of the bovmdary line. Several other sisters were 
settled in the same community, two of whom were married to 
brothers by the name of LesHe. Crawford had some money and 
was able to buy a good farm on the lower part of the creek and 
in the southern province, but Jackson, being very poor, contented 
hunself with a tract of land on Twelve Mile Creek, about five 
miles east of the line. The place was in North CaroHna, near 
the present railroad station of Potter, and it lies now, though 
not definitely pointed out, in a township and county which are 
called respectively Jackson and Union in honor of the son of 
this impecunious immigrant. Two years of labor were enough 
to break the body of the xmfortunate man, and early in March, 
1767, he rested from aU his anxieties. His loyal friends, after 
giving his spirit the honor of a true Irish wake, placed his re- 
mains in the Waxhaw chxurchyard. The widow abandoned the 
farm, the title to which the husband seems never to have ac- 
quired, and was received with her children into the home of her 
sister Crawford. A few days later, March 15, she was delivered 
of a third son whom she called Andrew in token of his father. 
In the house of her sister she took the place of housekeeper — 
for Mrs. Crawford was an invalid — and her children were given 
the usual advantages of a well-to-do frontier home. 

The exact spot at which Jackson was born has become a sub- 
ject of controversy. By a tradition which lingered in the Leslie 
branch of the family the event was said to have occurred at the 
house of George McKemy. When the mother, so the story runs, 
journeyed from her stricken abode to her sister's home, she 
stopped for a visit at the home of McKemy, and here 
labor came upon her. But when she was able to travel 
she continued her journey; and thus it came about that 


people thought the Crawford home welcomed into the world the 
future President. 

The Leslie tradition was reduced to writing in 1858, by General 
Walkup, a citizen of North Carolina, who was enthusiasticallj 
convinced that to his own state belonged the honor of having 
the birthplace of so distinguished a man. The evidence is 
chiefly traceable to the statement of Sarah Lathen, whose mother, 
Mrs. Leslie, was a sister of Mrs. Jackson. Sarah Lathen, in 1 767, 
was a girl of seven years, and in her old age she was accustomed 
to tell her family and friends that she remembered going with 
her mother across the fields at night to the house of George 
McKemy to attend Mrs. Jackson when Andrew was bom, and 
that her mother, who was a midwife, was summoned for that 
purpose. Some thirty years after her death the story was 
collected from those who remembered that she told it and re- 
duced to written affidavits. Parton has reproduced it at length 
and accepted it as true in his Life of Jackson. 

On the other side is the general story accepted in the com- 
munity and not openly contradicted in the Ufe of Jackson, al- 
though several biographies of him were written in that period, 
two of them under the immediate supervision of their subject. 
Jackson himself was, in fact, very clear in his idea of his birth- 
place. "I was born," said he on August 11, 1824, "in South 
Carolina, as I have been told, at the plantation whereon 
James Crawford Uved, about one irdle from the Carolina Road 
and of the Waxhaw Creek; left that state in 1784.'" This idea 
was confirmed in many of his important state papers and private 
letters. In the nullification proclamation and in his will he 
referred to South Carohna as "my native state." 

In later years a spirited controversy, has grown up on this 


•Jackson to James H. Weatherspoon, of South Carolina, Aug. 11,1824, Jackson Mss.See also F. P. Blsll 
to Lewis, Oct. 35, i8so. Mbs N. Y. Pub. Library; and Jackson , to Kendall, Nov. 2, 1843, (Cincintiali Comma- 
tial, Feb. lo, 1870) in which he speaks of South Carolina as " my birthplace and of which I am proud." 


point between citizens of the two states. Enthusiasm has 
abounded, and the argument has followed state lines till much 
confusion has resulted. Aside from such puzzling factors, 
each contention presents some elements of probability. To the 
writer the weight of evidence seems to favor the South Caro- 
linians. The LesUe tradition rests on an old woman's account 
of an event which happened when she was a child of seven, 
an event, too, about which a child could not be well informed. 
It was weakly corroborated by a statement of Thomas Faulkner, 
aged seventy; by another man, also a Leslie descendant, who relied 
on information which he said he had from Sarah Lathen's mother 
fifty years earher: and by James D. Craig's statement that he 
had heard — evidently much earlier than his statement — "a 
very aged lady," Mrs. Cousar, say that she assisted at the birth 
at McKemy's house. 

The weakness of this evidence Ues in the long time which elapsed 
between the event and the time of its recording. AH of it must 
have been carried many years in the minds of two people, one 
passing it on when she was very old to another who told it when 
he was very old. Add to this the enthusiasm which the narrators 
had for their story and the lack of critical examination of it 
when it came from their lips, place against it the clear statement 
of Jackson made in response to a question which this controversy 
aroused, that he was born in the house of James Crawford, in 
South Carolina, and to most men the story will probably appear 
doubtful. Somewhat more trustworthy is the expUcit statement 
of General Jackson.' 

Mrs, Jackson was a pious woman and is said to have fixed 
in her heart that her yoimgest son should become a minister, 
which leads to the suggestion that he must in early life have 
shown some leaning toward a Ufe of pubHc activity. But in his 

>Tbe evidence favoring the Sooth Carolina side has been collected by A. S. Salley, jr., and published in 
the Charleston Sunday News, July 31, 1904. Later contention on the opposite side has added little to 
Parton; but see Tompkins's History oj Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, II., Chap. V. 


earliest habits there was little to confirm her hopes. Of all the 
wild youths of the neighborhood he was the wildest. The rough 
sports, passions, and habits of the North Ireland tenantry were 
planted in the new community, although ideals were being 
elevated by the development of property and new obligations. 
The boy had a sensitive, quick-tempered, persistent, independent, 
and rather violent disposition; and there was little in the Ufe 
around him to soften these traits. He had an absorbing passion 
for excelling among a people whose ideals of excellence ex- 
pressed themselves in horse-racing, cock-fighting, readiness 
to fight in defense of what they considered their honor, and in 
the rather stilted but genuine habits of the frontier gentleman. 
As he came into the teens he was proficient in the use of heavy 
oaths, proverbially ready for a quarrel, fond of cock-fighting, 
already precocious in the knowledge of a horse, and in many 
other ways developed in waywardness. A moralist might have 
seen in this no good results for the boy's future, and for most 
youths the forecast would have been a good one; but Jackson 
differed from most people. He was ever filled with a purpose 
to attain eminence. Vice was not an absorbing trait with him, 
even when he set at defiance the canons of decorum. He was 
not addicted to the more animal faults, and his errancy grew 
out of intellectual quahties rather than appetite. He was 
destined to shake it off with the advent of serious things, as 
many another strong-spirited man has done. 

The ideals of the Waxhaw settlement did not demand much 
schooling for the boys. AbiUty to read and understand indif- 
ferent Enghsh, to write a legible hand, and to make ordinary 
business calculations were then the chief features of our rural 
education everywhere. It was enough for the ordinary purposes 
of the mass of American farmers, but it was too little for a man 
who was to play a part in the government of the state or nation. 
Of such instruction a modicum was offered in the upper parts 


tlij of the Carolinas and of that Andrew got his share, or something 

^ less. He was neither studious nor teachable, and what he got 

^jj came through sheer contact with the process of education. 

|)5I He was mentally an egoist; that is to say, one who relied on him- 

tijj, self. There was no time in his life when he was willing to learn 

[jjj. of others. Ideas came to him originally, and in obedience 

,j|ji to a strong natural aptness for knowing what he wanted: it was 

,j;;^ not his nature to take them from others. 

J „ To the day of his death Jackson's attainments in scholarship 

jjjg were very meagre. He knew no more Latin than he could pick 

jjj up in the practice of his profession of lawyer; his spelling and 

, grammar were devoid of regularity and showed the utmost 

L indifference to the rules by which they were determined for other 

i^ people; and his acquaintance with literature is a negligible 

quantity in an estimate of his life. Occasionally one finds 

. in his papers some oft-quoted phrase, as, Carthago delenda est, 

but it is always one which he must have heard on a hundred 
us ^f ,1 1 • 

^[.. stumps m Tennessee. Of all his promment contemporaries 

his utterances are most barren of allusions which show an ac- 
quaintance with poetry, history, or literature; and in comparison 
with him the grandiose Benton seems a pedant. 

His education was interrupted by the call for soldiers to resist 
the British invasion, an appeal most in keeping with his spirit. 
In the spring of 1780, all the American troops in South Carolina 
were carefully gathered into the city of Charleston, and when 
the place was taken with all its defenders on May 12, the state 
was at the mercy of its foes. Bands of red-coats and tories 
began to ravage the state wherever the patriots made a stand. 
One of them, the remorseless Tarleton riding at its head, fell 
on the Waxhaw community like an angry spirit, butchering a 
band of soldiers and ravaging the homes of the people. Hard 
after this attack came Rawdon for another blow, but the people, 
unwilling to face him, fled into the north till the invader 


turned back. Then the whigs rallied for vengeance. Down 
from North Carolina came Davie and Smnpter, two of the best 
light-horse leaders of the whole war, and at the battle of Hangmg 
Rock, on August i, 1780, they ahnost took revenge for the 
wrongs of their compatriots. In this battle was Andrew Jackson, 
then but thirteen years old, and his brother Robert rode in the 
army of Davie. Hugh, the eldest of their mother's sons, had 
given up his life some months earlier at the battle of Stono. 

From Hanging Rock the boy troopers returned safely to their 
home, but the expedition gave them a taste for war, and in the 
following year they joined with their neighbors in trjdng to cap- 
ture a body of British troops at Waxhaw Church. The attempt 
was a failure, the enemy turned and defeated them, and scouring 
the country for fugitives took the two boys prisoners. The 
commanding officer — it was not Tarleton — ordered Andrew 
to black his boots. The boy remonstrated, we may guess in what 
tone, that he was a prisoner-of-war and not a servant. The 
reply was a saber-blow aimed at the head of the young prisoner: 
it was warded by the arm of the recipient, but hand and head 
carried the mark of it to the grave. Robert was also ordered 
to do the same service and on refusing received a more serious 
wound than his younger brother. In this plight they were 
placed in Camden jail with a number of other prisoners. They 
received little attention here and were exposed to small-pox. 
From such a situation they were rescued by the efforts of their 
mother who induced the British to include them in an exchange 
of prisoners arranged between the two sides. Robert soon died, 
sither of small-pox or of his neglected wounds, but Andrew es- 
caped further danger. Thus the widowed mother gave two of 
her sons, both of whom were under age, to the cause of the Revo- 
lution. One other sacrifice, her own life, remained to her. 
Word came up from the seacoast that the Waxhaw prisoners 
on the British ships in Charleston Harbor were ill and needed 


attention. She joined a party of volunteers who went down 
to the city to nurse the sufferers, took prison fever from her 
patients, and died from the effects of it." 

The end of the Revolution thus found Jackson alone in the 
world at the age of fourteen, a strong and self-reliant boy, who 
was likely to take care of himself, although it was not quite 
certain that he would do it in the best way. He thought first, 
so we are told, of completing his education; but there was not 
much that a boy of his experience and disposition could learn 
in the schools of the vicinity. Then he thought of becoming 
a saddler, but a few weeks were enough to satisfy him that he 
was not fitted for so monotonous a life. Next he tried school- 
teaching, but neither his attainments nor his temper suited such 
a calling. If his mother left any property at all it was incon- 
siderable, and to begin Hfe as a planter was, therefore, out of 
the question. In his dilemma he turned to Charleston, which 
meant to the frontiersman the great world beyond the forest; and 
there he would try his fortime. In what line he sought to estab- 
Hsh himself we are not informed, but he was not long in finding 
his way to the race-track, where he soon bet and swaggered 
himself into notice. Tradition afl&rms that he thus came to 
know some of the prominent young blades of the city and that 
it was here he developed the manner of a fine gentleman which 
impressed those who met him in later years. A dignified bear- 
ing and exact conduct on state occasions were natural to him, 
and it is not improbable that during this visit to Charleston 
he first saw these qualities exemplified and felt an impulse to 
act accordingly. 

The next we hear of him he has decided to become a lawyer. 
It is pleasant to fancy that a sight of the great men of the city 
had given him the idea that there was something greater in 

» Some details of her burial in a letter from J. H. WeatherspooD to Jackson, April i6, 1825 Qackson' Mss.), 
Indicate that she was buried "in and about the forks of the Meeting and Kingstreet Roads," then in tne 
aaborbs of Charlatoa. 


life than being the leading backwoodsman of his vicinity, and 
that he determined to attain it. He was conscious that it was 
the frontier, however, that offered most opportimities to a man 
ivithout fortime or family, and he turned back to the red-hill 
country of his childhood. There were lawyers in Charleston 
tinder whom he might read law, but it was not to them that he 
ivent. In Morganton, N. C, lived Waightstill Avery, the most 
influential attorney in all the upper coimtry, and to him he 
&rst appHed, but his request was not granted. Then he went 
to Sahsbury, where he joined a class of students under Spruce 
Macay,' a lawyer of local note. Thus it was that in the year 
[784, in the old colonial town of Sahsbury, when he was seven- 
teen years old, that Andrew Jackson foimd a profession and sat 
iown to master as much of it as the people of the backwoods 
:hought necessary. 

It was not a very great deal of time that he gave to his law- 
Dooks. Tradition is our only guide for this period,' and it speaks 
:hiefly of wild escapades; of horse-racing, cock-fighting, and 
gambling for board-bills with his landlord. "He was," said an 
)ld resident after the former student had become famous, "the 
nost roaring, rolhcking, game-cocking, card-playing, mischievous 
'ellow that ever Hved in Salisbury." Macay 's instruction was 
)ieced out, just why does not appear, by that of John Stokes, 
md in spite of the time given to carousing, the law course was 
Lt length completed. He finally settled at Martinsville, in 
juilford County, North Carolina, and awaited cUents. Novem- 
)er 12, 1787, he was at the court in the neighboring county of 
3urry as the following entry in the court's records shows: 

"WiUiam Cupples and Andrew Jackson, Esquires, each pro- 
iuced a license from the Hon. Samuel Ashe and John Williams, 

* This spelling is justified by Macay's own signature. 

2 In 1844 Jackson said in his early years he knew the Polks intimately. Now this was the most prominent 
imily in Mecklenburg County and the adjoining region; and the inference is that his early position must have 
ecn as good as the North Carolina frontier aSorded. See Am. Eisil. Mag. (Naahville), HI., 188. 


Esquires, two of the Judges of the Superior Court of Law and 
Equity, authorizing and empowering them to practice as attor- 
neys in the several County Courts of Pleas and Quarter 
Sessions, within this State, with testimonials of their having 
hitherto taken the necessary oaths, and are admitted to practice 
in this Court."' 

With this our young gentleman was launched in a professional 
career. Chents were none too abundant, and tradition says 
that he served a while as constable in lack of some more remun- 
erative employment. At Martinsville were two of his friends, 
Searcy and Henderson, united in a mercantile partnership, and 
he was thrown into close relations with them. It is even possible 
that he gave certain assistance in the business. The court- 
house of Surry was then at a place called Richmond, and two 
Facts in connection with Jackson's visits there have come down 
;to us in a reliable way: Once he stopped at a tavern kept by 
Jesse Lister, who claimed later that Jackson did not pay his 
board-bUl, and it has long been a tradition that Lister, in 1815, 
wrote against the accovmt, "Paid at the battle of New Orleans." 
It is certain that after the inn-keeper's death his daughter pre- 
sented the bill to Jackson, who was then President and who 
refused to pay it on the ground that he did not owe it. He based 
his opmion on the fact that it had ever been his custom to pay 
such bills promptly, and he asked why Lister had not presented 
it in his life-time, saying that it might have been done easily 
•in 1788, when he passed Lister's house on his way to Tennessee.' 
The other slight view of his life here is in a statement from 
Cupples himself, who in 1795, wrote to Jackson in regard to a note 
which was given, presumably by Jackson, to settle the balance of a 
gambling debt at Richmond.' Thus we see that Jackson began 
life quite like himself in the law courts of North Carolina. 

» Surry Court Records, 1787- 
I "Lewis Williams to Jackson, February J, and endorsement, 1833, Jackson Mss. 
•William Cupples to Jackson, Aug. 19, 179S. Jackson Mss. 


It is impossible to say how much practice these early montli 
brought him; for no record of his practice survives. If it wen 
nothing at all, it was still as much as could have been expected 
of a boy, still less than twenty-one years old, who had no friendj 
but those he made. He doubtless knew little law; but many i 
lawyer who was not versed in legal principles has succeeded 
through successful personality, and in this respect Jackson was 
strong. Gamble as he might, he had a straightforward way ol 
dealing which ever made him friends; he was bold, he had the 
factdty of leading, he was just to a fault, he did not coimtenanc 
double-dealing, and he spoke his mind frankly. These qualitie 
made him friends in this first year of waiting in North Carolina 
and out of this initial success grew the confidence whici 
gave him the second advance in his career, his Tennessei 



tVHEN Jackson began to practise law, the portion of North Caro- 
na which lay west of the Alleghanies was being settled in two 
;ominunities. In its eastern part many people were living on 
he Watauga, Holston, Nollichucky, and French. Broad Rivers 
IS far westward as the neighborhood of KnoxviUe. Two hun- 
ired miles beyond them, in the rich Cimiberland Valley, was 
mother group of adventurers, whose centre was Nashville, but 
t extended up and down the river for nearly eighty-five miles, 
[n 1790 its population was five thousand and it was organized 
nto three counties, Davidson — with Nashville for the coimty- 
>eat — Sumner, and Tennessee. The region between these 
;wo settlements was a wilderness, so infested by hostile In- 
dians that when the national government in 1788 opened a road 
through it, a guard was established to go its entire length twice 
1 month for the protection of travelers. The soil along the 
Cumberland was more fertile than that of the mountains, and 
it was destined to support after a time a more prosperous and 
influential society. Tennessee was thus divided into two sec- 
tions, each of which was apt to be suspicious of the motives 
3f the other; and the ability of the future political leaders 
was frequently taxed to secure harmonious action between 

The Cumberland colony was established in 1779, under the 
leadership of two remarkable men, James Robertson and John 
Donelson; and in spite of many difficulties it grew rapidly. The 
chief danger was Indians, whom the British, before the treaty of 



peace in 1783, and the Spanish, after that time, incited t( 
attack the exposed American frontier. The whites retail 
ated with true Western spirit. The national govemmeni 
was then pressing Spain for a treaty and gave orders 
that peace should be preserved on the Spanish borders. But 
the Tennesseeans were not wilUng to see their homes 
devastated. Bands from the east marching imder Johi 
Sevier in 1793, and bands from the west marching undei 
James Robertson in 1794, delivered two blows which reduced 
the savages to a respectful state of mind. In 1795 Spain 
yielded the long desired treaty and opened the Mississippi 
to the Americans. Great results came from these events, 
but the people could not forget the perils through which they 
had passed, and it was many a day before they ceased to hate 
both Spaniards and Indians. 

In 1788, when the first struggle for existence was won, but 
before complete safety was secured, the assembly of North Caro- 
lina erected a superior court district out of the three counties 
on the Cumberland and called it "Mero."' Over this district Job 
McNairy, one of Jackson's fellow law-students at Salisbury, 
was appointed judge. The new tribunal was a court of lai 
and equity, with jurisdiction above that of the county court, 
and it was to meet at regular intervals in each of the counties, 
McNairy set out for Tennessee in the spring of 1788, and induced 
Jackson to accompany him in order to see the country. Thej 
proceeded leisurely, reached the settlements on the Holston in a 
few weeks, loitered there till autumn, and then passed over the 
new road to Nashville. Although Jackson had not come as a 
settler, profitable business was immediately thrust upon him. 
The one established lawyer whom he found in the place was 
retained by a combination of debtors who were thus able to 

'Laui! 0/ North Carolina, 1785, Chap. 47, and 1788, Chaps. 28 and 311 they may be f ound in the S(a/e fiaofill 
tf North Carolina, XXIV, 973 and 975. " Mero " is an incorrect spelling for|"Miro," the name of Hi 
governor of New Orleans. 


laugh at their creditors. The latter turned gladly to 
Jackson, who prosecuted boldly and successfully. His cHents, 
most of them merchants, were from that time his warm 
friends and supporters.' To this success was added, in 1789, 
the solicitorship in McNairy's jurisdiction with a salary 
of forty pounds for each court he attended.' Thus it 
happened that he determined to throw in his fortune 
definitely with the new community. Prosperity followed the 
decision. Fees and salary were soon converted into land 
whose value rose with the .settlement of the country, and 
eight years after his arrival he was one of the wealthy 
men of that region. 

When Jackson arrived at Nashville, John Donelson, one of 
the two leaders of the first colony, was already dead, a sacrifice 
to the red man's vengeance, and his widow was taking boarders. 
The new lawyer became one of her household and eventually 
her son-in-law. So much was afterv/ard said about this mar- 
riage that its history must be presented here with some 

Rachael Donelson, daughter of the pioneer, was married to 
Lewis Robards, of Kentucky, a man of dark and jealous dispo- 
sition who succeeded in making her life miserable. She is de- 
scribed as a woman of a Hvely disposition, by which is 
meant that she was not that obedient, demure, and silent 
wife which some husbands of the day thought desirable. 
By common report she was entirely innocent of wrong-doing 
and finally was forced by the cruelty of her husband to 
return to Nashville, where she lived with her mother when 

'This story folIowsParton (1, 13s). When Gov. Blount organized the territory in 1790, he licensedthe lawyers 
anew. Those mentioned in Davidson County are given in the following order: Josiah Love, John Overton, 
A. Jackson, D. Allison, H. Tatum, J. C. Mountflorence, and James White. These were probably named by 
seniority of residence. We know that Overton arrived about the same time as Jackson. Josiah Love, there- 
fore , must have been the protector of the creditors. See Am. Bistl. Mag. (Nashville), II, 232. 

*Reid and Eaton, Jackson is: Parton, Jackson,, I., Chaps, 10, 11, and 12; also Jackson's petition to the 
Tennessee legislature, Apr. 11, Z7g6, Jackson, Mss. 


Jackson appeared in the town. A short time later friends 
intervened and succeeded in reconciling the couple, so that 
Robards came to Nashville and also became an inmate of the 
Donelson home. 

For a time all went well, but at length the old suspicions 
returned. All Nashville was singing the praises of the young 
solicitor, Mrs. Robards included, and the jealous husband chose 
to make this the ground of new charges. So open were his 
reproaches that the boarders soon learned the situation as 
thoroughly as the unhappy wife herself. Thus the knowledge 
of it came to Jackson, whose habit ever was to settle difficulties 
face to face with his opponents. He had an interview with 
Robards and sought to convince him that the suspicions against 
Mrs. Robards were unfounded. But the husband took 
an injured air and refused to be convinced. Jackson 
became angry, and the affair assumed a worse state than 
ever. Robards stormed at his wife, swore at Jackson, and 
rode away to Kentucky never to return, vowing that he 
would have a divorce. 

The soHcitor was now in genuine distress. He was by nature 
exceedingly chivalrous and bore himself toward women with a 
protecting deference which made them all, even the fine ladies 
of New Orleans and Washington, his warm friends. For such 
a man the situation in which he found himself was calculated 
to create within him the feeling which he had just been falsely 
accused of having. The state of his emotions reached a crisis 
in the following autumn, the year was 1790, when a report came 
that Robards was coming to claim his wife. At this Jackson 
confessed to his friend Overton that he was a most unhappy 
man and that he loved Mrs. Robards. She returned his affections, 
and when later in the year she set out for Natchez in company 
with a family friend, in order to escape the threatened force 
of her husband, Jackson went along as a protector through the 


wilderness. In the following summer news came to Nashville 
that the legislature of Virginia had granted a divorce to Robards, 
Kentucky not yet being a state. The news went rapidly down 
the river to Natchez, and in the same summer the sohcitor 
followed it. A few weeks later he returned bringing Rachael 
Robards as his wife. They settled thirteen miles from Nashville 
on a beautiful plantation called " Hunter's Hill," and for two 
years life went smoothly. But in December, 1793, came news 
that Robards was suing in a Kentucky court for divorce on the 
ground that his wife had lived for two years in adultery with 
Andrew Jackson. It then transpired that no divorce had been 
granted in 1791, but that the Virginia legislature merely 
gave Robards the right to sue for a divorce in a Kentucky court. 
Up till a recent time no suit was instituted, Jackson had acted 
precipitately, and the charge that Mrs. Robards was living in 
adultery was technically true. On this state of facts the court 
readily gave Robards the Uberty he sought. Nothing remained 
for the surprised couple at " Hunter's Hill " but to have a second 

Years later it was the habit of his political enemies to say that 
Jackson ran away with another man's wife. During the pres- 
idential campaign of 1828 this charge was freely circulated, 
and Jackson's friends in Nashville pubUshed the refutation in 
full with afl&davits. It is from this source that later biographers 
have drawn their story. By this means their subject is relieved 
from the imputation of wicked intent but not from that of pro- 
fessional ineflSciency. As a lawyer he should have known that 
it was not usual at that time for either the Virginia or North 
CaroUna legislature to grant a divorce outright, but that the 
law provided just that course which Robards had followed. 
Had Jackson been acting only as a lawyer for a chent, he would 
at least have read the Virginia statute before setting out for 

»Fot the story as told by Overton see Parton, y«*«», i, 148-153- 


Natchez, and the casual perusal of it would have shown him thi 
true state of the case.' 

Never was divorce better justified by the results. His de- 
votion to his wife was the gentlest thing in the turbulent lift 
of the husband: her pathetic affection for him in return for his 
loyalty raised the rather prosaic life of the wife quite to tit 
level of the poetic. She was a woman of great goodness of heart, 
benevolence, and rehgious fervor; but she was by endowment 
and by training the intellectual inferior of her husband. Hei 
strongest quahty was her religion, which in her case was pervasive, 
effusive, and serious. Although Jackson was irreligious in earlj 
Hfe, her piety made a deep impression on him; and in her old 
age it consoled her much to know that he was a behevei 
in the doctrines of the Presbyterian church. She hersell 
was highly esteemed for her good intentions, and hei 
husband's friends, knowing his tenderness for her, frequent!) 
closed their letters to him by commending themselves to 
her favor. 

Jackson's marriage identified him with an influential family 
connection; for John Donelson was a leading citizen in his 
day, and his many sons and daughters shared his popularity, 
Among them our strong-willed soUcitor took place as a leader, 

lit was not till 1827 that Virginia passed a general law to regulate granting divorces. It then authorized 
divorce a vinculo for impotency, idiocy, and other natural incapacity, and divorce a mensa et thoro for adultery, 
etc., both to be granted in the court of chancery. Divorces might still be had for other grounds from the 
assembly, and the law provided that investigations should be had beforehand in the county court and the 
verdict shotild be referred to the legislature, where the divorce might be granted. (Act of February 17, 182J.) 
The first general law of divorce in North Carolina was enacted in 1816 By it, the court could grant divorce 
for natural incapacity, but for other causes there must be a prior investigation in the nature of a suit in the 
courts, and the matter must be referred to the assembly before the court decision was final. Laws of 1816, 
Chapter ga8; 1818, Chapter 968; and iSig, Chapter 1007. Before the adoption of these general laws, the 
method was by appeal to the legislature only, and the custom was general for the case to be referred to a, 
court for ascertaining the facts. All the presumption, both from Jackson's experience under North Car- 
olina law and from what he ought to have known about Virginia custom, was against the supposition that a 
divorce outright was given in Virginia. The Virginia assembly acted on Robards's petition on December ao 
1790. It authorized "Roberts" to have a divorce from his wife "Rachel," by suit in the supreme court of 
Kentucky, the writ to be published for eight weeks successively in the Kentucky Gazette, and "if defendantdoes 
not appear within two months after publication, the case may be set for trial but postponed for cause, and 
if the court finds that the wife has deserted her husband or is living in adultery, the marriage is to be 
dissolved." See Herming, Statutes, XIIT., 227. 


He gave them in time as much as they gave him. The Donel- 

tt sons were but easy-going EngHsh people and dropped behind in 

1 the strenuous struggle of the day; while Jackson's Scotch-Irish 

.spirit ever drove him forward. He was the soul of generosity, 

and denied them no favor or service. Some he took into busi- 

,, ness partnerships; to some he gave military, and to others civil, 

, office; some he sent to school; for others he acted as guardian 

" during their minority; and one he adopted, giving him his name, 

but, unfortunately, not his capacity.' 

", ^ A sister of Mrs. Jackson married Colonel Robert Hays, who 

' was a revolutionary soldier and became one of the most reliable 

men of the community. He was till the end of a long life a firm 

friend of General Jackson, and many letters which survive show 

that he was a useful counselor and a worthy gentleman. A niece 

* of Mrs. Jackson married John Coffee, a man great of body and 
^ of heart, and a splendid frontier soldier who served Jackson and 

his country well in the Creek and New Orleans campaigns. 
Jackson had now encountered three interesting stages of 
' '" American society. In Charleston he met the most formal phase 
■ ^ and knew that it had no welcome for a man like him: in SaKsbury 

* he found the settled and regular life of the up-country farmers 
'^ and saw that its welcome was strained: in Nashville's newly 
,^ formed society he met the charity of the frontier which receives 
'"^ talent without questions. He accepted its confidence and be- 
«' came a leading citizen. New responsibilities sobered him to an 
ici extent, and something of the old rollicking manner was laid aside. 
'^, But Nashville was not very exacting in this respect. It allowed 
-!> him to retain, it even approved of, many habits which to-day it 
St: pronounces uncouth. He fought cocks, raced horses, gamed if 

he felt like it, quarrelled frequently, held himself ready to fight 

^ 'In 184s, a correspondent sent Jackson a letter from Mrs. Jackson's mother, Rachael Donelson. From it, 
»' we see that the writer was the youngest of eleven children, that she was from Accomac County, Virginia, and 
' that her family were people of moderate circumstances. See A. T. Gray to Jackson. March 19, 1845, Jackson 


duels, and, when the occasion arose, indulged in oaths which were 
the acme of profanity. None of these things by the standards 
of the place made a man less a gentleman. They rather 
added to his standing; and inasmuch as Jackson excelled in all 
of them his standing was secure. His horses were the fastest, 
his cocks were the most noted, he would quarrel with none but 
men of distinction, and his great oaths became the despair of 
the young braggarts of the valley. 

In appearance he was tall, slender, and very erect. His face 
was pale; his eyes, which were very blue, were also very intense; 
and above a high and narrow forehead rose a mass of stiff hair 
which was too brown to be sandy and too light to be auburn, 
His chin was clear-cut and square, but without heaviness, his 
mouth, always his best feature, was large, and his lips were of that 
flexible kind which emphatically express on occasion extremes 
of benevolence or anger. He bore himself with the air of a man 
who was his own master. In a trade he would announce his 
terms without hesitation, and the other party might accept 
or reject at once. His opinions were formed and expressed with 
the same celerity. 

In the courts of the day such a man appeared to advantage. 
Offenders were apt to be turbulent and often they were supported 
by bands of associates who made the life of a prosecuting 
attorney both impleasant and perilous. Jackson's physical 
courage was equal to his moral courage, and he loved justice, 
He loved also to feel that no one thwarted his purpose, and in 
the courts his purpose was to be a good solicitor. His speeches 
were brief and not much interrupted by taking up law-books; 
but they were filled with feeling and common sense. Bad gram- 
mar, bad pronunciation, and violent denunciation did not shock 
judge or jury nor divert their minds from the truth. His cases 


likely to carry with Mm the esteem of the law-abiding and the 
respect of evil-doers. 

Many years later this vigorous young lawyer became a na- 
tional figure. The qualities which in the beginning of his career 
gave him preeminence in the backwoods now seemed eccentric- 
ities to the more cultured East. They became the basis of a 
thousand anecdotes which were told by his enemies and friends. 
Parton, his best biographer, has repeated many of them, led on, 
as it seems, by the tendency to write things which only amuse. 
Other writers have followed Parton, and thus it happens that 
Jackson's shadow falls across written history as a grotesque em- 
bodiment of violence, prejudice, and poUtical inefficiency. But 
history is not to be written from caricature; and, if we are to 
understand the personaHty before us, we must look beyond 
the entertaining stories told about him, stories which are some- 
times exaggerations and sometimes made to take a meaning more 
pecuhar to the mind of the narrator than to that of him about 
whom they were told. Probably the best means of knowing the 
man, aside from his eccentricities, is to remember always his 
manner of meeting his problems in the early and simple days 
of the Cvunberland frontier. The foundation of his career was 
laid in those days when he rode from court to court in West 
Tennessee as pubUc prosecutor. It was then that the people 
came to have confidence in him and he learned the art of leading 
them. When he secured promotion it came from the hands of 
as democratic a people as ever lived. Solicitor imder state 
authority at twenty-two. United States attorney at twenty- 
three, member of congress at twenty-nine. United States senator 
at thirty, justice of the supreme court of Tennessee at 
thirty -one, and major-general of militia on a dangerous 
frontier at thirty -five — accident or personal favoritism 
coidd not have been responsible for such a career among 
such a people. 


While Jackson was judge occurred the incident of the arrest 
of the felon, Bean. It was often told by his friends and acquired 
such embellishment from their hands that Jackson in his old age 
thought proper to write a correct account, possibly for Kendall's 
biography. From that it appears that Jackson on the benct 
learned that Bean was resisting authority and ordered his arrest, 
The sheriff tried but reported that he was defied. The judge 
ordered him to summon a posse. In a short time he reported 
that the posse was defied. Then Jackson rebuked him asking 
how he would account to the country, but did not, as has been 
said, ask the sheriff to simamon him. Shortly afterward court 
adjourned, and the three judges were walking to their dinners 
when the sheriff, smarting from his rebuke, summoned them as 
a posse. Two of them, Campbell and Roane, put themselves 
on their dignity and refused, but Jackson agreed to act. He 
armed himself, approached Bean, and said he would shoot him 
down if he did not surrender. The latter said he would submit 
but was afraid of the people, but when assured he should have 
no harm from that source he surrendered to Jackson, who handed 
him over to the sheriff. The incident shows Jackson at his best, 
in enforcing order against violent men." 

^The statement is in the Jackson Mss, without signature or date and in the hand of a copyist. It has u 
endorsement in Kendall's hand. 



By an act of May 2^, 1790, congress organized the country 
between the Ohio and the present states of Alabama and Miss- 
issippi as "The Territory of the United States Southwest of 
the Ohio River," and in September, 1790, William Blount, of 
North Carolina, became its governor. The name was too long 
for ordinary use and the people shortened it into "Southwest 
Territory," by which it was in the future generally called. In 
1 79 1 the northern half of the territory became the state of Ken- 
tucky, and Blount's jurisdiction was limited to the southern half. 
The government of this region was modeled after that of the 
Northwest Territory, by which it might expect to have a territo- 
rial legislature when it contained five thousand adult male inhab- 
itants and to become a state when its total population was 
sixty thousand. 

Governor Blount sought to substitute his authority for that 
of North CaroUna with as little friction as possible, and for 
that reason he continued in oflSce as many as possible of the old 
ofl&cials. He recognized the dual nature of the territory by 
organizing anew Washington District in the east and Mero in 
the west; and these subdivisions served for the bases of judicial 
and miUtary organization. John McNairy, Jackson's old friend, 
was continued territorial judge, and James Robertson was 
made commander of the militia with the rank of brigadier- 
general. Jackson was appointed attorney-general for Mero with 
duties like those he discharged under the old authority. For 



emergency service a cavalry regiment was organized in eacl 
district, and over the Mero regiment Robert Hays was placed 
with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Thus the power of the 
United States was established in what was destined to be the 
state of Tennessee. A year later, September lo, 1792, Jackson 
received his first military office when Blount made him "judge- 
advocate for the Davidson Regiment." It was not a prominent 
place, and it was no doubt conferred chiefly because he was a 
lawyer; but it identified him with a calling for which he was by 
nature eminently fitted and in which he was to perform his most 
signal services. 

In 1793 the "Southwest Territory" took its first step toward 
statehood by estabhshing a territorial legislature. Two years 
later it opened the way for the second step by ordering that a 
census of the population should be taken, and, if the returns 
should show sixty thousand inhabitants, directing the governor to 
call a constitutional convention. The enumeration indicated a 
population of seventy-six thousand, blacks and whites; and 
January 11, 1796, five delegates met from each of the eleven 
counties to prepare a frame of government. For such a purpose 
the community put forward its best men; and among those who 
went from Davidson County were Jackson, McNairy , and Genera] 
Robertson. In the convention the burden of the business was 
entrusted to a committee of two from each coimty, who were 
appointed to prepare the scheme of a constitution. The twc 
members of this committee from Davidson were Jackson anc 
McNairy, whom we must regard as the intellectual men of thf 
delegation. McNairy took prominent part in the debates, bul 
Jackson, who was never a debater, said but little. Traditioi 
declares that he suggested the name Tennessee for the propose( 
state, and he seconded an amendment by which ministers of tb 
eosDel were allowed to hold anv office except member of assemblv 


the assembly which it created to put the new state government 
into operation. It fixed March 28, 1796, as the day for the ex- 
piration of the territorial government, and it declared that if 
congress did not accept the state as an equal member of the 
sisterhood, Tennessee should continue to exist as an indepen- 
dent state. 

In this the people of Tennessee were acting on the basis of a 
supposed right to statehood, which they thought was implied 
in the act by which congress received North Carolina's cession of 
the whole region. In the absence of precedents for the creation 
of states out of territories their view was probably not unnat- 
ural; but it is impossible to doubt that it originated partly 
in that spirit of defiance to national authority which had long 
been strong in the West, and which did not entirely disappear 
till the collapse of Burr's projects. 

But congress was not inclined to admit the contention of the 
Tennesseeans. To allow the people of a territory to meet of 
themselves and set aside the authority which ruled them was a 
loose way of exercising the function of government. It is not, 
therefore, surprising that when the newly elected senators pre- 
sented themselves in Philadelphia in the spring of 1796, while 
party feeling over the execution of the Jay treaty ran high, they 
should have received cold welcome. Tennessee was strongly 
repubUcan, the coimtry was about to elect a President, and it was 
natural for the question of right to be viewed through partisan 
spectacles. The repubHcans argued that the senators from the 
new state ought to be admitted, but the federalists declared that 
they could have no recognition until congress authorized the 
territory to change itself into a state. The house was carried 
by the repubhcans in favor of admission, but the senate went 
with the federalists and refused to concur. Finally, on June i, 
1796, as congress was about to adjourn, the federalists relented 
and recognized Tennessee as a state. The delay produced bad 


feeling among the people of the new state, who attributed the 
action of the federalists to the worst motives. 

In the change into statehood there were many offices to be 
filled, most of them by the legislature. It was thus that senaton, 
governor, and high administrative officials were chosen. But 
there was a single office which depended upon the suffrages of 
all the people, and in the nomination of various persons to vari- 
ous posts the leaders reserved it for Jackson, probably because 
he was strong with the people: this was the one member of tk 
national house of representatives. To this office Jackson was 
triumphantly elected, and on December 5, 1796, he took his seat 
in the congress at Philadelphia. 

The contrast of Ufe between NashviUe and the Pennsylvania 
city was a sharp one. In the former Jackson was easily a leader; 
in the latter he was less at home. Unfortimately, no friend has 
told us of the impression he made on his associates, but his oppo 
nents had better memories. From one of them we learn that le 
was regarded as a grave backwoodsman, his hair done up in 
queue with an eel skin, and his clothes fitting badly on his long 
body. Another — it was Jefferson himself — said that he had 
violent passions and that when he attempted to make a speedi 
he was unable to go on with it because he "choked with rage.'" 
With certain allowances for the exaggerations of an enemy, the 
charge was probably well founded. Jackson felt too strongly 
to express himself in extempore speeches; but ready speed 
making is not essential to political success. Jefferson himseli 
did not have it, but by political management he was the con- 
troling power of a great party. Jackson also ruled a great party, 
not by speech-making nor by political management, as Jefferson, 
but by the force of his personality. 

In congress he gravitated toward that group of extreme repub- 

•The informant was Gallatin. See Hildietb, History oj the United States, IV., 6g2. See also WebstB 
Pti'^nlr Correspondence, I. ,.371. 


:ans which was led by Macon and Randolph. Letters are 
reserved indicatmg that he was on intimate terms with its 
ading members. 

The draft of a letter dated October 4, 1795, and probably 
ritten to Macon, shows what his poUtical views then were. 
What an alarming situation," he said, "was the late negoti- 
ion of Mr. Jay with Lord Granville, and that negotiation (for a 
reaty of Commerce it cannot be called, as it wants reciprocity) 
^ing ratified by the Two thirds of the Senate and president has 
limged our country in; will it end in a Civil war; or will our 
juntry be retrieved from this present [situation] by the firm- 
2ss of our representatives in Congress (by impeachments for 
le daring infringements of our Constitutional rights) have the 
Lsulting cringing and ignominious Child of aristocratic Secracy; 
amoved Erased and obHterated from the archives of the Grand 
spubHc of the United States. I say unconstitutional; because 
le Constitution says that the president by and with the advice 
id consent of the senate are authorized to make Treaties, but in 
le present Treaty the advice of the senate was not required by 
le president previous to the Formation of the Treaty; nor the 
utlines of the said Treaty made known to the senate imtil after 
lade and their Consent wanting to make it the supreme law of 
le land (therefore made without the advice of the senate and 
Qconstitutional) and erecting courts not heard of in the consti- 
ition, &c. aU bills for raising a revenue to originate in the house 
i representatives by treaty. 

" It is not only unconstitutional but inconsistent with the law 
: Nations, Vattel B2, P242, S325 says that the rights of Nations 
re benefits, of which the soveriegn is only the administrators, 
id he ought to Dispose of them no farther than he has reason to 
resume that the Nation would dispose of them therefore the 
resident (from the remonstrance from all parts of the Union) 
id reason to presume that the Nation of America would not have 


ratified the Treaty, notwithstanding the 20 aristocratic Neebo 
of the Senate had consented to it.'" Crude as this dra 
is, the reader and not the biographer ought to determi 
how much allowance should be made for the carelessness 
its preparation. After all proper deductions are made on ti 
score it must still mark the author of it as a man of i 
formed and untutored political judgment. 

Two days after Jackson took his seat in congress Washingtc 
made before that body his last annual address, the tone of wMc 
was mildly partisan. The committee of the house which pii 
pared an answer went a little further in the same spirit, and tl 
submission of their report to the house was the signal for cai 
cisms from the republicans. They objected to being made t 
declare that they approved of the measures of Washington' 
administration, and they strove hard to secure an amendmei 
which would soften the words of the report into a form moi 
nearly non-committal. In this they failed: some of them hadn 
the courage to vote at last against the commendation of Wasl 
ington, but twelve extreme repubUcans held out to the lasl 
voting against the resolutions. One of them was Andrew Jackso 
and another Edward Livingston, then of New York. I 
demands some explanation to show why the well-boi 
New Yorker remained obdurate against what he considere 
the aristocratic tendencies of Washington, but none is neede 
to show why the fierce Westerner resented the popular idi 
that the Father of his Country was too sacred to be attacks 
in any of his opinions. Livingston was a republican by theor 
but Jackson was one by environment and by every instinct 1 
his nature. 

In his short stay in Philadelphia Jackson made a good impre 
sion on the leading repubUcans. From the few letters of tl 

■See the Jackson Mss. See also Jackson to Overton, January ii, February 3, 33, March 6, 17(8; C( 
(n Library of Congress. 


period which have been preserved we see that he continued after 
he retired from congress to correspond in familiar terms with 
such men as Stevens Thompson Mason and Henry Tazewell, 
of Virginia, and Nathaniel Macon, of North CaroUna. "We 
often wish you back," wrote Mason in 1798,' and from Macon 
several very friendly letters are preserved, some of them written 
before Jackson was a congressman." This confidence must have 
been based on his strong personality as much as on the fact that 
he represented the opinion of West Tennessee. 

Although he did not distingviish himself on the floor of con- 
gress, Jackson secured the passage of two measures which made 
him popular in Tennessee. One was a bill to place a regiment 
on the southern border of the state for protection against In- 
dians: the other was a bill to pay those who took part in Sevier's 
unauthorized Nickajack expedition of 1793. As to the latter, 
the executive refused to pay the claim on the ground that it 
would require special authority from congress to do so. Jackson 
promptly introduced the necessary resolution, and the debate on 
it became sharp. His own speech, in the contracted form used 
in the "Annals of Congress," appears respectable. One point 
in it was characteristic of the speaker. If this vote was refused, 
said he, the discipUne of the militia would be destroyed: 
the private soldier ought not to have to determine the authority 
of the ofl&cer who called him into the field: it was his to obey, 
and if the call was illegal the soldier should not have to suffer 
for the error of his superior by losing his pay. In this debate 
Jackson was on his feet four times, and no less a leader than 
Madison rose in his behalf. Finally the resolution was referred 
to' a select committee, of which Jackson was chairman. The 

iMason to Jackson, April j?, and May is, 1798, Jackson Mss. Tazewell to Jackson, July 20, 1798; 
Ibid; Macon to Jackson, January 17, 1796. February 14, 1800, January u, 1801, Ibid; John McDowell to 
Jackson, April 36, 1798, Ibid, 
jUBiv iWhen Jackson began to win victories in the Creek campaign, Macon stood sponsor for him in Washington 
and told the world who he was. Benton, View, I., 116. 


report was in favor of paying the claim, and congress gave i 
approval without a division." For a new member who had r 
special gifts in speaking the achievement was respectable. 

The wave of popularity which followed his first session in coi 
gress brought him in 1797 an election to the United States senate 
To the floor of the more dignified house he went with person; 
reluctance, for he was little suited to the formal methods of tha 
body. One session was all he could bring himself to endure 
He was, in fact, fitted neither by talents nor inclination for ; 
legislative body. Moreover, his private business demandei 
his attention, and in the spring of 1798 he resigned the ofiice ti 
which he had been elected and accepted a judgeship of the stati 
supreme court. The latter position suited his tastes better thai 
the former, and he held it for six years. The manner of lifi 
which it entailed was much like that which the attorney-general 
ship involved: there were the same riding of circuit, the sam( 
variety of experience, the familiar faces of old lawyer friends, 
and the ever recurring excitement of settling the perplexing 
affairs of the community. Into the Ufe Jackson fitted easily 
and happily. He had many of the qualifications of a good judge, 
He was, no doubt, but little versed in the law; but he had common 
sense, integrit}-, courage, and impartiality. Only one of Ms 
decisions has been preserved, and that is an unimportant one. 
Tradition asserts, says Parton' that they were "short, untecli- 
nical, unlearned, sometimes ungrammatical, and generally right." 
So highly was he esteemed as a lawyer that one of the prominent 
business men of west Tennessee, on hearing the rumor that he 
would retire from the bench, wrote at once to retain him for all 
his business and expressed the hope that he might succeed to 

lAnnals of 4th congress, 2nd session, 1738, 1742. 1746. 

*For the desire to combine the East and the West, Cocke and Jackson, in this canvass, see Robeitsoa to Cockt 
August I, 1797, American Eislorical Magazine,(,Na.shville) , IV., 344- He succeeded Cocke and notBlomli 
as is sometime a said. See Garrett and Goodpasture, Tennessee, 338. 

aParton, Jackson, I., 227. 


all the practice of G. W. Campwell, a good lawyer who was just 
elected to congress.' The news that he was finally to resign 
brought protests from many prominent people, among them 
General Robertson; and a petition is preserved to the same effect 
with the signature of forty-three prominent citizens attached. 
Further evidence of his success on the bench is found in the 
general apprehension that if he left it Judge Hugh L. White, 
the only other member of the court, in whom the state had high 
confidence, would also feel impelled to leave. These points 
are mentioned to show with what acceptabihty he filled the 
ofl&ce of judge. It was July 24, 1804, that his resignation of 
the judgeship was accepted by the Tennesse legislature.' 

It happened that at this time a governor was to be appointed 
for the newly established Orleans Territory. The Tennessee 
senators and representatives signed a request that Jackson 
have the place, and Matthew Lyon, whose expulsion in 1798 
distressed Jackson greatly, added his name to the petition. 
The appointment went to W. C. C. Claiborne, but Jackson's 
endorsement by the entire state delegation shows how great 
was his influence at the time. Among the papers preserved in 
regard to the affair is a letter from one Henderson who declared 
that the appUcant was a contentious man, that he was indicted 
for assault and about to be arrested for breach of the peace. 
In view of other endorsements this must be taken as the out- 
burst of personal pique. Jackson was then an admirer of Macon 
and Randolph and his failure to get the office he sought con- 
firmed his opposition to Jefferson. In 1809 he was the leader of 
Monroe's cause in Tennessee.' 

Six years on the bench was calculated to withdraw him from 

iMark Aimstrong to Jackson, August 19, 1S03, Jackson Mss. 

3In the first published volume of Tennessee Reports, 1813, only eight cases are reported for the period before 
September, 1804, when Jackson was on the bench. He wrote the opinion in none of them. They are all very 
meager reports of cases from Mero district and seem to have been made originally by the reporter Overton 
for his private use. 

'See American Historical Review, lU., 285-7. 


active participation in politics, but another cause operating monon 
powerfully to the same end was his quarrel with John Sevier, thithi 
popular hero of East Tennessee. This affair will be discussecsec 
in another chapter: here it will be proper to remark that It ll 
made Jackson unpopular with Sevier's many friends and serkri- 
ously lessened his political strength in the whole state. Eveiyec 
in the days of his greatest fame he had many enemies in thehe 
eastern part of the state. 

When Jackson retired from the bench his private affairs wereers 
in a serious condition. For several years he had been strugglinging 
beneath a heavy financial load from which he was resolved at lastast 
to rid himself. Like all the men of means of his community he he 
bought much of the cheap pubUc land of the first days of settle-le- 
ment. In 1795 he owned jointly with his friend, John Overtonpn, 
as much as twenty-five thousand acres. In that year he went to to 
Philadelphia and sold this land to a wealthy man named Davididd 
Allison, receiving for his own share notes which he endorsed andnd 
exchanged for a stock of goods preparatory to opening a general 
merchandise store in NashvUle. He was hardly at home before 
news came that Allison had yielded to the panic which was then 
sweeping over the country and that the notes which Jackson 
had endorsed were held against him. To save himself from a 
swarm of hungry creditors required prompt action, and he knew 
it. He at once closed out his store for thirty-three thousand 
acres of land, which he soon sold for twenty-five cents an acre, 
taking for it a draft on WUliam Blount, then United States 
senator from Tennessee, who was generally esteemed a very 
rich man. He hurried to Philadelphia to cash the draft and pay 
his creditors, only to find that Blount himself was embarrassed 
through AlHson's faUure. By the greatest exertion he managed 
to pay his notes as they became due, but in doing so he sacri- 
ficed much of his property; and he came out of this experience 
much shorn of financial strength. 


His rallying power was great, and he quickly adapted himself 
the new situation. The fine estate of "Hunter's Hill," on which 
le lived, was absorbed in the general disaster; but he gave it up 
badily and moved to a smaller plantation eight miles from Nash- 
ville. It was then mostly unimproved and in size it was a modest 
Iquare mile. The dwelling on it was built of logs and so many 
)f his slaves were sold for debts that it was difficult to work 
t; but the struggle was taken up bravely. It was not many 
Vears before the farm was brought into excellent condition, a 
aandsome brick house was built, and the estate — for it was 
che "Hermitage" — became one of the most famous in America. 
: His affairs settled on a new basis, Jackson returned to his 
plan to estabUsh a store. At Clover Bottom, on Stone River, 
jour miles from the "Hermitage," he opened a general merchan- 
dise business. He took two partners, neither of whom proved an 
efficient trader. One was John Coffee, not yet married to Mrs. 
Jackson's niece; and the other was John Hutchings, himself a 
relative of Mrs. Jackson. The firm dealt in all kinds of goods, 
buying of the inhabitants their produce, their lumber, their 
horses, and even their slaves, aU of which were sent down the 
river to whatever profit Natchez or New Orleans could offer." 
His partners looked regularly after the business, and Jackson, 
when he was home from his courts, rode over daily and served 
customers as though he were not a member of the highest court in 
Tennessee. During this period Mrs. Jackson, with the re- 
sourcefulness of the women of the frontier, took chief part in 
the supervision of the farm, and the tradition long survived that 
she did it exceedingly well. 

Jackson was a good trader in large transactions. He could 
with his frank abruptness sell or buy lands, slaves, or horses 
to advantage. But he was not so successful in small affairs. In 
the petty bargaining of a general merchandise store, in keep- 

ijfaduon to Jamu Jackson, August >$, i8zg, Jackson Msss. 


ing up an attractive stock of goods, and in the little tricks 
which the successful merchant humors the foibles of a tradinjini 
public he was not proficient. Thus it happened that the entei-iei- 
prise at Clover Bottom languished for a while, then began to to 
be vinprofitable, and finally was so unremunerative that he wasvas 
glad to sell his share to his partners for notes-in-hand whiciicli 
he could hardly expect them to pay. This occurred after he wasvas 
off the bench. From that time till the war of 1812 he occupiedied 
himself with farming; and in that respect he was successful, 'ul, 
General Jackson was never a very rich man. He was only v a 
prosperous planter and slave-owner, probably a little too prone me 
to make business ventures which he was not careful enough igh 
manager to bring to a successful issue. Of such a nature was?as 
the venture in merchandising and his later venture in Mississippi )pi 
lands. A man of more reliable and less erratic business habits lits 
might have made either affair a success. 



While Jackson was merchant and planter the incident oc- 
curred which posterity has insisted on calling Burr's Conspiracy. 
His connection with it is important, because it shows with what 
group of national poHticians he was now in sympathy and be- 
cause it reveals his complete identity with that new and self- 
asserting West which burned to drive Spain from the northern 
shores of the Gulf of Mexico. 

Until the summer of 1804, Aaron Burr was the leader of a 
respectable faction of New York republicans, and he had friends 
in many other states. He was opposed to Jefferson on personal 
grounds, and this brought him into touch with the group of ex- 
treme republican theorists who were dissatisfied with the more 
practical policy of the President. He had ability, daring, and 
personal magnetism, but those who knew him well felt that he 
lacked sincerity and was far too anxious to triumph. His duel 
with Hamilton, July 11, 1804, ended for the East a career which 
was already desperate; and he turned to the West to repair 
his fortunes. A good lawyer and still in his prime, he might have 
won professional success and finally political promotion in New 
Orleans or in any other promising Western city, had he been 
content to follow a steady life. But he was not a quiet man. 
He was by temperament an adventurer, and the West was to 
him a theatre in which he could by dash and sagacity carry 
through the greatest schemes. He would test its possibilities 
and win political control of some new colony, state, or empire. 



For such an undertaking money and men were necessary, 
and he had neither. His son-in-law, Governor Alston, 
of South Carolina, though rich, was not rich enough 
for so vast an enterprise. But the Western situation 
was such that Burr thought he could make it contribute to 
his ends. Louisiana had recently come into American hands, 
much to the disappointment of England, Spain, and its own 
ancient inhabitants; and he beUeved that the people of 
Kentucky and Tennessee were hostile to the government of 
the United States.' He thought, therefore, that England 
would lend money, arms, and probably ships to check the 
westward expansion of the United States; that Spain would 
give aid to any plan which would stay our approach to her 
Mexican border, and that the foreign-bom people of Louisi- 
ana, not yet reconciled to American dominion, and the 
dissatisfied population of the upper valley, would furnish 
men to overthrow an authority which they were believed 
to disdain. It was, moreover, impossible for him to win 
the support of either party to the plot without concealing 
his purpose from the other parties to it. As a result, so 
many stories of his plans were put into circulation that 
posterity has had difficulty in determining what was his 
real object. 

Burr's first move was to appeal to England, He won 
over Anthony Merry, the British minister in Washington. 
Then he sent an agent to London where a fair hope of 
success was unexpectedly defeated by changes in the 
ministry which brought into the foreign office Charles James 
Fox, ever a good friend to the United States. Next he 
turned to Spain, whose American representative he also 
fascinated; but the government in Madrid would not adopt 

■For the reluctance with which the people of the Cumberlind approved of st&tebood !n i ; q6, see Eamu)', 
Anuals of TtHMssu, 64S, also 634. 


the enterprise nor let it fail entirely. They offered Burr a 
small sum, enough to keep up his scheming, but not enough to 
carry the project to success. 

While this phase of the scheme was progressing, its master 
mind turned to the West, where he was generally popular. 
Ten years earher Kentucky and Tennessee were full of the spirit 
of revolt, but the Spanish treaty in 1795, and the acquisition of 
Louisiana in 1803, dispelled most of it. In 1805, the country 
was loyal, although some restless leaders of the old movement 
remained in the region. One of them was James Wilkinson, 
commander of the regular troops in the lower Mississippi Valley. 
He was tainted with nearly aU the treason which crossed his 
path during a long life, he was long a pensioner of Spain while 
an ofl&cer of the United States, and he yielded ready consent 
to Burr's propositions. He was more experienced in sedition 
than his confederate, and the future was to show that he knew 
better the proper moment for abandoning a perilous 

In the West Burr talked openly of a plan to settle a colony 
on a tract of land which he owned on the Red River. To the 
leading Westerners he confided that at the first declaration 
of war between the United States and Spain — an event which 
was generally considered more than probable — he would move 
on Mexico and wrest it from the hands of Spain. Most of his 
defenders contend that this was his real purpose and that it 
did not differ from many other filibustering plans against 

Another theory is that Burr conspired with Wilkinson to 
the end that they should unite the Western adventurers 
which the one should raise with the regulars under the com- 
mand of the other, and by cooperating with disaffected 
persons in Louisiana set on foot a revolution in the territory 

■William DicksoD to Jsckson, March 4, 1802, Jackson Mss. 


newly acquired from France. It was on the ground that 
this was his real purpose that Burr was later tried for treason. 
Although he was acquitted because of the ruling of the court 
that treason must be an overt act testified to by two 
witnesses — which the prosecution could not substantiate 
— posterity and most of the people of the day believed 
that the charge was just. 

In all his negotiations Burr lied so much that it is useless for 
the historian to try to discover which of the schemes was the 
true one. He hed to the British minister about his support in 
the West; he Ued to the Spanish minister about his failure 
with the British minister; and he lied to the people of the West 
as it suited his convenience.' He told the West that England 
was supporting him: when he observed their hostility to Spain 
he talked about taking Mexico: and when they expressed a 
desire for Mobile he dropped hints of taking Florida. At the 
same time he told Yrujo, Spanish minister, not to be alarmed 
at rumors of an attack on Mexico or Florida, since such reports 
were only a part of the game. To the politicians of the West 
he said that the government in the East was sure to dissolve. 
To a small group of intimates he said that he would join a body 
of Mexican patriots, overthrow the Spanish authority, and make 
himself king of Mexico. His beautiful daughter, Theodosia, 
dreamed of being a princess, while his Ueutenant, the enthusias- 
tic Blennerhassett, exulted in the prospect of representing the 
new state in England. Burr is supposed to have given his best 
confidence to WUkinson, but for all their correspondence was 
in cipher, it is evident that he did not reveal to his confederate 
the failure to get money in England. Thus the arch-schemer 
kept the centre of the plot in his own hands, communicating 

^Senator Smith, of Tennessee, wrote to Jackson from Washington, January 3, 1807 (Jackson Mss), that he 
had seen a letter from Burr to Clay, stating that he. Burr, did not "own a single boat, musket, or bayonette, 
and that the executive of the United States are acquainted with his object and view it with complaisance." 
Smith added that Jeflferson denied this utterly. 


to none of his associates more than was necessary to forward 
the project.' 

Burr made a preHminary visit to the Mississippi as far as 
New Orleans in the summer of 1805 and found everything to his 
liking. He gave the following winter and spring to efforts to 
obtain foreign aid. The failure to get it was a severe blow and 
was the real crisis of the affair. Wilkinson, more experienced 
in treason, recognized it and prepared to withdraw; but Burr 
decided to take the gambler's last chance. He beheved that 
an initial success would rally the West and that victory would 
follow. According to the story usually accepted, he planned 
to go down the river on November 15, 1806, with one thousand 
men, join Wilkinson at Natchez, wait there until the legislature 
of Louisiana under the influence of the Creoles, should declare 
independence, and then occupy New Orleans in the name of 
the revolutionists. 

As November 1 5 approached, difl&culties accumulated. A group 
of federahsts in Louisville began to attack him in a newspaper, 
and he was tried for treason but acquitted through the efforts 

iBun's correspondence with English and Spanish officials, which was brought to Ught by Mr. Henry Adams, 
is considered evidence that he intended to revolutionize Louisiana, and in this view the Mexican part of the 
scheme is pronounced a subterfuge. But Mr. W. F. McCaleb (Tlie Bun Conspiracy, 1903). thinks that the 
Mexican project was the real one and that the foreign negotiations were a subterfuge. The historian's 
problem is not that of the court at Richmond. He is concerned to know if Burr had a treasonable intent, 
while the trial rested on the commission of an ovet act. To prove such an intent, we have the foreign ne- 
gotiations and particularly the request that England would send a ship to the mouth of the Mississippi to keep 
off any American naval force, which might be sent against Burr, the charges of Wilkinson after he turned 
state's evidence, and the general rumor in the West, that Burr was going against New Orleans. On the other 
side we have the apparent sincerity with which many of his supporters held to the Mexican plan. Most 
of the evidence on each side can be explained away on the ground that Burr was duping somebody, and his 
character is so doubtful that we must admit that he was capable of duping everybody. Thus, we are almost 
justified in saying that it is impossible to determine the real purpose of the conspirators. But one piece of 
evidence will not be so easily disposed of, and that is Wilkinson's attitude, not his assertion, which was 
certainly unreliable. If any persons besides Burr knew his real purpose, Wilkinson must have been one 
of them. If, therefore, Wilkinson knew that the expedition was intended against Mexico, which was legally 
a misdemeanor, why should he have alleged that it was intended against Louisiana, which was legally treason, 
a more serious offence? If he were going to turn state's evidence to save himself, why should he allege a more 
serious offence than was necessary, one which he knew to be untrue and out of which he must manufacture 
supporting evidence out of the whole cloth? He was not an imbecile; his many successful intrigues required 
a certain amount of mental ability. It is inexplicable that he should have placed himself in an attitude, which 
was unnecessarily perilous to himself. 


of his attorney, Henry Clay. Moreover, supplies and boats 
were hard to obtain, men did not enlist freely where so much 
was unexplained, and the date set for departure passed without 
a movement. In the meantime, President Jefferson was aroused 
to the gravity of the situation. He sent agents to the West 
to investigate the situation and to use their efforts to check the 

In October Wilkinson decided to desert the conspiracy. He 
knew that Burr's promises to take an equal share in the enter- 
prise were futile. If it succeeded, it must be through the aid 
which it would derive from the regular troops. He would not 
scorch his fingers for Burr's chestnuts; and in his code of morals 
he was justified in renouncing a partner whose promises were 
broken. He accordingly sent Jefferson a fuU account of a treason- 
able plot which he said he had discovered. It was ingeniously 
written to cast suspicions on Burr, while it concealed his own 
complicity.' Up to this time Jefferson refused to treat seriously 
the rumors from the West, but he was either convinced by Wil- 
kinson's letter or considered it good grounds for arresting the 
adventurer. He sent out a proclamation for the apprehension 
of aU plotters of treason, but without calling names, and a short 
time later sent orders to seize the members of the expedition. 

When this proclamation reached the Cumberland, Burr was 
in Nashville, where the mercantile firm with which Jackson was 
connected was preparing for him boats and supplies and where 
Patten Anderson, one of Jackson's faithfid friends, was enlisting 
men. Bending every effort he could to get away, he was able 
to depart at the first intimation that he was about to be arrested. 
He reached the Ohio with but a handful of men only to find that 
the states of Kentucky and Ohio were also aroused and that 

■One of the agents was Seth Pease dispatched in December with a confidential letter from Senator Smith 
of Tennessee. See Smith to Jackson, December ig, 1806, Jackson Mss. 

>A year later Governor Claiborne thought Wilkinson innocent. See Claiborne to Jackson, December i, 
tier, JackiOD Mse. 


he must flee still farther. Gathering all the strength possible 
he began at once the long expected voyage. During the last 
week of the year he passed from the Ohio to the Mississippi and 
to the fate which awaited him. He had thirteen boats and sixty 
men, a small force for such an undertaking, but he counted on 
Wilkinson. Near Natchez he learned that this was a false hope 
and attempted to escape while he could. He was arrested at 
Fort Stoddart and subsequently tried for treason at Richmond, 
in Virginia.' 

While he was in the West, Burr made four visits to Nashville, 
the first beginning on May 29, 1805. He was popular there 
because in 1796 he worked effectively to keep the federalists 
from delaying the admission of Tennessee into the union. He 
must have met Jackson while the latter was a member of congress 
from 1796 until 1798, but there is no evidence that they knew 
much of each other at that time. The backwoodsman, with his 
hair done in queue with an eel skin was not apt to impress the 
trained New York lawyer. When the two men met on the Cum- 
berland the case was different. The major-general of militia 
fitted the Tennessee environment better than that of Phila- 
delphia, and Burr now found him, what he really was, a man of 
distinction among his fellows. During this visit to Nashville 
the traveler spent five days at the "Hermitage" before he con- 
tinued his journey to New Orleans. Returning northward 
he came on August 6 for a second visit under the same roof. 
The people of Nashville gave him a public dinner on the twelfth. 
It was a notable occasion, and the prominent people of the 
neighborhood gathered in their bravest clothes to do honor to the 
recent vice-president and friend of Tennessee. 

Burr was pleased, as most other people who knew him were 
pleased, at Jackson's quaUties. He found him, as he said in a 

'For fuller accounts of Burr's project, see Adams, History of the United States, lU., 219-343, and 441-471; 
uid McCaleb, Aaron Burr's Conspirarcy. 


letter to his daughter, Theodosia, "a man of intelligence, and 
one of those prompt, frank, ardent souls whom I love to meet." 
When the two men parted, their relations were cordial. No 
evidence was produced, even in the heat of poUtical controversy, 
to show that they plotted treason. It is more than probable 
that Burr spoke to Jackson of an impending war with Spain 
during which an attempt would be made to wrench from her 
grasp a vast territory west of Louisiana. Although Jackson 
was very careful to preserve the most trivial papers for the use 
of his biographer, he has given us no other inthnation of what 
Burr said to him than that it was not treasonable. His strict 
sense of honor would explain this silence. 

Burr was good enough judge of a man to recognize Jackson's 
military capacity. He knew that the commander of the militia 
in West Tennessee, the frontier nearest the scene of future 
action, held a position only less important than that of Wilkin- 
son and sought by every possible means to concHiate him. 
After his departure from the "Hermitage" he sent several 
letters to his host. In one he said that war was imminent on 
account of the Miranda incident, and he urged his correspondent 
to prepare to act promptly. New Orleans, he suggested, would 
be the objective of such a war, and if Jackson would send a list 
of suitable officers for two regiments he would in case of hostilities 
be able to get them accepted and commissioned by the secretary 
of war. The request met a ready acceptance. This gave Bun- 
valuable information for the organization of a future expedition, 
and it had the promise of added local influence for Jackson. 

In September, 1806, the "Hermitage" again received its 
illustrious guest, and again the people of Nashville were called 
together to do him honor in a public dinner. The repetition of 
this demonstration suggests the purpose to establish the visitor 
in the good opinion of the people. Unusual care seems to have 
been given to the dinner. At the proper moment the doors 


opened and Burr and Jackson entered together, the latter in 
full militia uniform. Bowing in stately manner they made the 
round of the room, the natives looking on in admiration. It was 
long remembered in Nashville that the dignified bearing of their 
own general equaled that of his companion, who was usually 
pronounced one of the most correct men of fashion of his 

From this reception Burr had reason to think that his affairs 
went well on the Cumberland, and a few days later he returned 
to the Ohio. November 3d, he sent the firm of which Jackson 
was a member an order for five boats and a quantity of provi- 
sions. Money in advance accompanied the order and the firm, 
which was accustomed to fit out boats for the river, accepted 
the cormnission. 

November 10, 1806, as Jackson himself relates, a friend came 
to the "Hermitage" and revealed the outlines of a scheme to 
divide the union, and they both recognized the proposals of his 
recent guest. Until that time, says Jackson, he did not question 
the statement that Burr intended to settle a colony on his Red 
River lands and, in case of war with Spain, to move against 
Mexico. But he was now alarmed and wrote letters of warning 
to the governors of Tennessee and Louisiana and to his friends, 
Dickson and Smith, in Washington.' He took the further pre- 
caution to order the mUitia to be ready for duty, and he tendered 
his and their services to the President of the United States. 

He wrote also to Burr demanding the truth about the rumors 
in circulation and received such a positive and prompt, denial 
that he suspended his judgment, saying that he was not willing 
to condemn a friend on mere rumor. Consulting with his part- 
ners he decided that the contract for boats and provisions must 
be executed, but that no other help should be given. It finally 

•Jackson to Claiborne, November 12, 1806; Jackson to Dickson, November 17, 1806; Claiborne to Jackson, 
December 3, 1807; Jackson Mss. The first is in Parton, Jackson, I., 319. 


happened that Burr needed but two of the boats, and the money 
advanced for the others was returned to him. 

December 14, Burr made his fourth visit to the Cumberland, 
staying now at a tavern at Clover Bottom, where the store which 
Jackson and his partners owned was located. He called at the 
"Hermitage" in the absence of its owner, but Mrs. Jackson 
received Viim coldly. When her husband returned, he called at 
the tavern in company with his friend, Overton, and again de- 
manded the full nature of Burr's plans. Again he received 
exphcit assurances that disloyalty to the union was not con- 

Jackson's fears were thus quieted, but the course of the ad- 
venturer was nearly run. Already his estabUshment on the 
Ohio was broken up and the President's proclamation against 
bim was approaching NashviUe. He seems to have had some 
intimation of his danger; for one day he stole away in his two 
boats, leaving behind him seven hundred dollars to pay Patten 
Anderson for services in getting recruits. A few hours after 
he was gone Jefiferson's orders were received. The people were 
thunderstruck when they learned that he whom they were 
recently covering with honor was suspected as a lawbreaker. 
Public opinion now rose against the fugitive. He was generally 
denounced and the more excitable part of the town burned him 
in efl&gy. 

January i, 1807, Jackson received orders from the President 
and the secretary of war to hold his command ready to march 
and to arrest Burr if possible. He called out the militia at once 
and sent off letters of warning to various persons. Visions of 
a great expedition down the river began to float before him. 
To Patten Anderson he revealed himself rather fully in a letter 
of the fourth.' He wrote: 

I received your note: its contents duly observed. The 

■PartoD, Jackson, I., 398. 


receipts as directed I have retained. The negro girl named, 
if likely, at a fair price, I will receive. 

I received some communications from the President and 
Secretary of War; and your presence is required at my house 
to-morrow evening, or early Monday morning, to consult on 
means and measures, and to determine the latitude of the au- 
thority. It is the merest old woman letter from the Secretary 
that you ever saw. Your presence on Sunday evening wiU be 
expected, and your presence on Monday morning at nine o'clock 
can not be dispensed with, you must attend. I have sent an 
express to the mouth of the Cumberland and to Massac to see 
and hear and make observations. I have wrote to Captain 
Bissle; from information received at the moment the messenger 
was starting gives me reason to believe that Bissle is the host 
of Aaron Burr. Wilkinson has denounced Burr as a traitor, 
after he found that he was implicated. This is deep pohcy. 
He has obtained thereby the command of New Orleans, the gun 
boats armed; and his plan can now be executed without resist- 
ance. But we must be there in due time, before fortifications 
can be erected, and restore to our government New Orleans 
and the Western commerce. You must attend. Give to those 
officers that you see assurances that aU volunteer companies 
will be gratefully accepted of. We must have thirty, thirty-five, 
or forty companies into the field in fifteen or twenty days; 
ten or twelve in four. I have it from the President, I have it 
from Dixon, that all volunteers will be gratefully accepted. 
To-morrow night Winchester wiU be with me; I wish you there. 
The Secretary of War is not fit for a granny. I fear John Ran- 
dolph's ideas were too correct; but dubious as he has wrote, 
there are sufficient authority to act? Act I will, and by the next 
mail I wiU give him a letter that will instruct him in his duty, 
and convince him that I know mine. If convenient, bring the 
girl with you; and health and respect. 

A. Jackson. 

Compliments to Mrs. Anderson. I must tell you that Bona- 
parte has destroyed the Prussian army. We ought to have a 
little of the emperor's energy. 


The Napoleonic energy to which this letter referred was 
distinctly a characteristic of Jackson, as later events were to 
prove. But in this case it turned out to be unnecessary. In a 
week came a letter from Captain Bissell, whose name Jacksonmis- 
spelled, at Fort Massac on the Ohio, saying in a tone of fine irony: 

There has not, to my knowledge, been any assembling of 
men and boats at this, or any other place, imauthorized by law 
or presidency, but should anything of the kind make its ap- 
pearance which carries with it the least mark of suspicion as 
having illegal enterprises or projects in view hostile to the peace 
and good order of government, I shall, with as much ardor and 
energy as the case will admit, endeavor to bring to justice all 
such offenders. For more than two weeks past I have made 
it a point to make myself acquainted with the loading and situa- 
tion of all boats descending the river; as yet there has nothing 
the least alarming appeared. On or about the 31st ult., Colonel 
Burr, the late Vice President of the United States, passed with 
about ten boats, of different descriptions, navigated by about 
six men each, having nothing on board that would suffer a con- 
jecture more than a man bound to a market; he has descended 
the river towards Orleans. Should anything to my knowledge 
transpire interesting to government, I wiU give the most early 
notice in my power." 

From this as well as from the report of his special messenger, 
Jackson concluded that the game was beyond his reach and sent 
the militia, who had responded to his call in a most generous 
manner, to their homes again, first making them a ringing addresss 
which officers thought it advisable to have pubUshed. With 
this the Burr incident, so far as Tennessee was concerned, was 

The quick and strong response of the militia shows how com- 
pletely Jackson was already master of the fighting spirit of the 
frontier. He had then, as in his later military and political 

•Parton, Jackson, I., 333. Jackson replied in a more moderate tone, January 0, 1807, Jackson Mss. 


career, a group of lieutenants who believed in him. They im- 
bibed his energy and accepted his authority. And he was al- 
ways their master, justifying his domination by his power to 
maintain their confidence and by utilizing it to accomplish the 
most important objects. 

This phase of the Burr incident also brings into view that ' 
turbulent egotism which for Jackson in many critical periods 
was a source of weakness as well as of strength. In this case it 
shows a man who could seize and rule a complex situation without 
authority to do so, but with the approval of the community. 
As a mihtia officer he had no power to give orders to Bissell, but 
he thought it necessary and did not hesitate to assume the power 
needed. In whatever position he was thrown he was apt to 
take the place of leader, both by reason of his own pretension 
and through the acquiescence of others. 

A still better illustration in point is liis attitude toward the 
secretary of war, the incompetent Henry Dearborn. "By 
the next mail," said he in the letter to Patten Anderson given 
above, "I wiU instruct him in his duty and convince him that 
I know mine." and he was as good as his word. At this time 
war with England and Spain was generally expected and from 
it Jackson fervently hoped he would get the opportunity 
to begin a military career. His thrust at Dearborn was, therefore, 
most incautious; for no ordinary man under such circiunstances 
would dare the wrath of the superior who must sign his first 
commission in the regular army. 

The beginning of the quarrel was as follows: One of the 
stories which Burr told to secure aid was that he had the support 
of Jackson and the Tennessee mihtia. Rumor magnified it 
till in Washington it was asserted that Jackson and the west 
Tennessee mihtia were going to support Burr. The secretary 
gave too ready an ear to the report, and in the letter which 
reached Jackson on January i, 1807 he said: "It is industriously 


reported among the adventurers that they were to be joined 
at the mouth of the Cumberland by two regiments under the 
command of General Jackson." The thrust reached the Ten- 
nesseean in a tender part, his sense of honor. 

Morever, this was not Jackson's first quarrel with Dearborn.' 
In 1803, Colonel Thomas Butler, a revolutionary soldier then 
serving under Wilkinson in New Orleans, was arrested on a 
charge of disobedience and neglect of duty. He had many 
friends in NashviUe who came to his defense, alleging that the 
real cause of the arrest was Wilkinson's desire to rid himself 
of an honest subordinate who would not tolerate his superior's 
treasonable dealings with the Spaniards. The leading man 
of these defenders was Jackson. He wrote a letter of protest 
to President Jefferson and later forwarded to him a petition from 
citizens of Nashville in behalf of Butler.' None of his efforts were 
successful, but the affair convinced him that Wilkinson was a 
scoundrel. Jefferson replied that Butler was arrested for ab- 
sence from duty.' When, therefore, Jackson learned the promi- 
nent part Wilkinson was taking in the revelations of Burr's 
evil doing, his mind reacted against the whole affair. It angered 
him to see that hypocrite supported by the secretary of war 
and the President, and the imputations now received from the 
former gave him an opportunity which he was more than willing 
to accept. 

Vv'^riting to the secretary on January 8, 1807,' he sent a full 
account of the steps he had taken to arrest the conspiracy, with 
copies of his letters to Bissell and others, and added: 

The first duty of a soldier or good citizen is to attend to the 
safety and interest of his country: the next to attend to his 

ijackson himself thought the part he took in support of Butler aroused the hostility of Dearborn. Jacbon 
to Dearborn, January 8, 1807, "Supplement," Jackson Mss. 

•Jackson to Jefferson August 7, 1803; Jackson and othjrs to Jefferson, December , 1804 ; Jeffetson 

to Jackson. September 19, 1803; Jefferson Mss., Library of Congress. 
'Jackson Mss. 


own feelings whenever they are rudely or wantonly assailed. 
The tenor of your letter is such and the insinuations so grating, 
the ideas and tenor so unmilitary, stories allude to, and inti- 
mations of a conduct, to stoop, from the character, of a general 
to that of a snarhng assassin. (Then hereafter) I will sir en- 
close you, a copy of a letter from Governor Claiborne, that will 
shew you I never depart, from the true sense of duty to my 
country, whenever I am even suspicious of its injury. 

Health and respect, 
Andrew Jackson. 

Through the broken sentences of this extract one sees clearly 
the strong emotion with which it was written. In what he 
called a "supplement" to the letter of January 8th, he found 
a more fluent tongue, saying: 

Col. B. received, sir, at my house all that hospitality that a 
banished patriot from his home was entitled to. I then thought 
him a patriot in exile for a cause that every man of honor must 
regret, the violence with which he was pursued, aU his language 
to me covered with a love of country, and obedience to the laws 
and your orders. Under these declarations and after his 
acquittal by a respectable grand jury of Kentucky, my 
suspicions of him vanished, and I did furnish him with two 
boats, and had he wanted two more on the same terms and 
under the same impressions I then had he should have had 
them. But sir when prooff shews him to be a treator, I would 
cut his throat with as much pleasure as I would cut yours on 
equal testimony.' 

This spirited protest was more than Dearborn expected from 
a general of militia, but others interfered and the quarrel went 
no farther.' 

But friends were not able restore to Jackson his former equa- 

ijackson Mss. The "Supplement" is in Jackson's hand, but crossed over in such a way as to suggest that 
it was not sent. 
>G. W. Campbell to Jackson, February 6, 1807, Jackson Mss. 


nimity. The safe refuge which Wilkinson, equally guilty with 
Burr, found under the wing of the administration was enough 
to convince his suspicious mind that Dearborn and probably 
Jefferson had collusive knowledge of the exploded conspiracy. 
He never forgave either of them; and when he was summoned 
to Richmond as a witness for the prosecution he came so full 
of wrath that the attorneys' for the government did not dare put 
him on the witness stand." This was a disappointment; for 
he expected to testify to things which would put Wilkinson in 
a very uncomfortable position. With characteristic impetu- 
osity he assembled a crowd on the public square and harangued 
them against Jefferson to his heart's content. 

From that time he was entirely out of sympathy with the 
administration. "I have loved Mr. Jefferson as a man," he 
said, "and adored him as a president. Could I see him attempt 
to support such a base man with his present knowledge of his 
corruption and infamy I would withdraw that confidence I 
once reposed in him and regret that I had been deceived in his 
virtues. . . . My own pride is, if our country is involved in 
war in the station I fiU, I will do my duty. My pride is that my 
soldiers has confidence in me, and on the event of war I will 
lead them on to victory and conquest.'" A month later John 
Randolph introduced into congress a resolution to inquire into 
the alleged treasonable conduct of Wilkinson, and a resultless 
investigation was made. Randolph was not, in fact, proceeding 
in good faith. He sought to embarrass Jefferson and hoped that 
the revelation of a plot between Spanish ofl&cials and WUkinson 
would produce such a popular outburst that war would be inevi- 
table and that this would be accompanied by the faU of the advo- 
cates of peace who then controlled Jefferson's council.' 

1 Jackson was sworn and ordered before the grand jury, but here the record fails us. See Robertson, Report 
of Trial of Burr, I., 312. 
'Jackson to Daniel Smith, Hermitage, November iS, 1807, Jackson Mss. 
'McCaleb, Burr Cons{'iracv, 334; Anrials of loth Congress, xst session. Volume I., x357.6S,X3o6-X398. 


But Jackson's purpose was simpler. He believed that Wil- 
kinson was a scoundrel and that the recognition he received was 
a disgrace to the government. He lost no opportunity to un- 
cover the treachery which he, with many others, beHeved was 
concealed within the records of the general's tortuous career. 
In Januaiy, 18 10, he learned that an incriminating correspond- 
ence between Wilkinson and Michael Lacassonge, late post- 
master at Louisville, was in St. Louis and could be obtained by 
the government. He wrote at length to Senator Whitesides, 
of Tennessee, enclosing necessary papers and urging him to lay 
the matter before the President. Lest nothing should be done 
in that quarter he sent duplicates to John Randolph and wrote 
a letter to him in which he relieved his feelings. He said : 

It is to be regretted, that the arm of government has been 
stretched forth to shield this public villain, from the just 
publick punishment .that he merits. It has appeared to me 
that the closer the clouds of testimony of his guilt threted 
around him, the more the respectability ^of his answers; the 
more the favors of government were heaped upon him; and by 
this means enquiry crushed and truth intimidated and from the 
enclosed you will see, that this object has been attained, for I 
believe Capt. OAllen a man of firmness, and a patriot ; and with 
what solicitude he writes and expresses himself on the occurrence! 
The publick mind is now calm; this villain of corruption and 
iniquity must be draged from his lurking place, and uimiasked 
to the world. The stain that the government of our country has 
received by having such a character at the head of our army 
must be washed out by a just and publick punishment; and I 
fear that there is not a man on the floor of congress that has 
firmness and independence enough, to bring forward to the bar 
of justice this once favorite of presidential care but yourself.' 

But for all the efforts of Jackson, General Wilkinson continued 

ijackson to Whitesides, Hermitage, February lo, 1810; Jackson to Randolpli, Hermitage, n. d., but appu 
antly of same date; and Capt. Wm. OAUen to Jackson, January 10. 1810, — Jackson Mss. 


to enjoy the favor of Madison as he formerly enjoyed that ol 

The turn which the Burr incident thus took placed JacksoD 
in opposition to Jefferson and Madison. In 1808 he supported 
Monroe in Tennessee and ceased his efforts only when informed 
that to continue them was a useless expenditure of money and 
influence. His course identified him with the opponents of the 
regular Virginia politicians, men who supported Crawford 
in the contest which ended in 1824; and the result was that his 
own election in 1828 involved the complete overthrow of the 
Virginia influence in the republican-democratic party. 

In all the later criticism of political enemies no evidence 
was produced to show that he was privy to a scheme to divide 
the union. His clear patriotism is revealed in aU his conduct. 
"I love my country and government," he said to Claiborne at 
the first suggestion of treason, "I hate the Dons, I would delight 
to see Mexico reduced, but I would die in the last ditch before 
I would yield a foot to the Dons or see the union disunited."' 
The words are strong and passionate but they have the ring 
of sincerity. 

Jackson's hostility to Wilkinson was well known in Tennessee. 
Burr must have heard of it, and knowing it he would hardly 
have proposed to Jackson a scheme which depended in its essen- 
tial parts on the cooperation of the general at New Orleans, 
The fact that Wilkinson was necessary to an attempt against 
Louisiana goes to show that no plans to that end could have been 
proposed to Jackson. 

^Jackson to Claibome, November 13, 1806, copy in Jackson Mss. See also Farton. Jackson I, 3tP' 



One who appreciates the many good qualities of General Jack- 
son's character may well wish that this chapter was omitted; 
for it deals with matters which were no credit to him, and for 
which the best apology is that they but reflected the ideals of 
the community in which he was bred. But, in truth, he went 
further than the ideals of the community. Duelling was, no 
doubt, generally approved in his time in the South and West; 
but his high passions gave it an application which went further 
than the average ideals, and he carried himself in ordinary quar- 
rels more strenuously than most Southern and Western gentle- 
men. He was not properly quarrelsome, for he did not practise 
the small arts of one who stirs up strife; but he was sensitive to 
criticism and too apt to pay respect to the tatthng of busybodies 
who surrounded him. Most of his "difl&culties" woidd have 
been avoided by a magnanimous man, even in a commimity 
in which the authority of the code was recognized. But here we 
must recognize that his passions were aUied to qualities of mind 
which sustained him in, if they did not impel him to, many of 
his most important achievements. 

The first notable quarrel' of Jackson in Tennessee was that 
which he had through a number of years with John Sevier. 
Its origin is uncertain, but facts seem to support the following 
account: In 1796 came an election for major-general of militia. 
Under the territorial regime, Sevier held this office, but as he 

>It is impossible to include in this narrative all of Jackson's encounters. It seems necessary to omit the 
duel with Aveiy, which most writeis describe, but which had but little influence on his career. 



was commander-in-chief under the state constitution, he must 
relinquish the post. Jackson, whose military rank at this time 
was not higher than judge advocate,' desired the place. Sevier 
favored George Conway, opposing Jackson on the ground of 
inexperience; and a blazing quarrel occurred between the two 
men at Jonesborough." In November, 1796, the election was 
held. The law provided that the brigadier-general and 
field ofl&cers of each of the three districts should as- 
semble at three places and cast their votes for major- 
general. Those for Mero District were to meet at Nash- 
ville. Before the election Sevier sent Brigadier-General 
Robertson, of the district, some blank commissions with 
instructions to appoint cavalry ofiicers and wrote a letter 
to Joel Lewis in which he spoke in favor of Conway. Be- 
fore the actual voting there was some discussion of candidates 
at which Jackson remained a silent spectator till Lewis, who was 
not an officer, rose to speak against him and while doing so read 
from the governor's private letter. This brought Jackson to 
the floor. He criticized Sevier for exceeding his constitutional 
power in delegating Robertson to make appointments for him and 
for interfering in an election, which ought to be free from execu- 
tive influence. Busy tongues carried the speech to Sevier, who 
was as hot-headed as his critic. He took a lofty tone and de- 
clared that he cared nothing for what "a poor, pitiful, petty-fog- 
ging scurrilous lawyer" might say about him. Of course the 
lawyer was duly advised of this retort; and the controversy be- 
came warm. Jackson was in Philadelphia when he learned 
that Sevier had replied to his charges: he restrained himself 
till he returned to Nashville in the spring of 1797, and then 
there began an angry correspondence between the two men. 
It threatened an appeal to the code, but that was avoided; 

iSee below, I., 75. He was called colonel in 1707. 

"Narrative of Colonel Isaac T. Aveiy which, however, is not the best evidence. PartoD,/oc*ji»», I., 163- 


and in the end a peace was patched up.' The controversy re- 
veals that there were in the state two factions in the republican 
party, one led by Sevier and another in which Jackson was a 
prominent person. 

Sevier was particularly strong in East Tennessee, then the 
most populous part of the state. He was chosen governor in 
1796 and reelected till 1801, when by the constitution he was 
ineHgible for further choice to that ofl&ce till another term was 
passed. Archibald Roane, a friend of Jackson, was then elected 
for one term, after which Sevier was re-elected in 1803 and held 
the ofl&ce till 1809. This magnetic revolutionary hero and 
Indian fighter was irresistible when he appealed to the Tennes- 
seeans for votes, but he was not able to develop an organiza- 
tion which should live after him. In 1809 he gave way to his 
opponents, who then took a continuous control of the affairs 
of the state.' 

The peace which was made between Jackson and the East 
Tennessee hero in 1797 was violated in 1803, when Roane ran 
against Sevier for governor. In his canvass Roane charged 
his opponent with obtaining fraudulently certain lands from the 
state of North Carolina. He relied on information furnished 
by Jackson, who on July 27, 1803, published in The Tennessee 
Gazette a long letter in support of Roane's charge, thus formally 
assuming responsibility for the quarrel. 

In order to understand this dispute even passably it is neces- 
sary to go back to 1797. In the autumn of that year Jackson, 
then a senator from Tennessee, revealed to Alexander Martin, 
who was serving in the same capacity from North Carolina, the 
particulars of a plot, about which he had recently heard, to 
defraud the latter state of military lands. Jackson had the 

'See Jacksonto Sevier.May 8,io,and 13, I7g7, ^mcncart Historical Magazine, (Nashville,) V., ii8, 120, 
121. A draft of the first is in the Jackson Mss. See also Sevier to Jackson, May 8 and 13, 1797, Jackson Msg. 
'Garrett and Goodpasture, Tennessee, 161. 


story from Charles J. Love and declared that, when he revealed 
it, he did not know Stokely Donelson and James Glasgow would 
be implicated. The Nashville agents were Tyrrell and W. T. 
Lewis.' Martin sent the information to the governor of his 
state, and he promptly laid the communication, together with a 
written statement which Jackson furnished, before the North 
Carolina assembly.' This was the beginning of an investigation 
which revealed extensive forgeries of papers which entitled old 
soldiers to lands in the West and under cover of which the state 
had been recently cheated of vast tracts. One of the men in- 
volved was Stokely Donelson, a brother of Mrs. Jackson, but 
this fact did not deter Jackson from exposing the evil-doers. 
Another was James Glasgow, secretary of state in North Caro- 
lina, a man of brilUant personality, who had aided the plotters 
by accepting the forged papers knowing them to be such. He 
was forced to resign his secretaryship and, broken in fortune 
as weU as reputation, was glad to find a refuge in Tennessee 
during his old age. 

One hundred and sixty-five of the forged warrants found their 
way into the hands of John Sevier, by what means is not clearly 
explained; but the advantage which the conspirators would 
derive from drawing the governor of Tennessee into their scheme 
was so evident that many people considered the mere fact that 
the fraudulent warrants were found in his hands evidence of 
collusion. Their conviction was strengthened by the fact that 
in 179s, sixteen years after these warrants were issued, the 
entry-book in which one would expect them to be recorded was 
destroyed, apparently by design. Moreover, on going through 
the papers in Glasgow's office a letter from Sevier to Glasgow 
was found in which the writer asked that certain words in the 

■Jackson to Overton, January 25, 1798, Library of Congress. (Copy) 

'Alexander Martin to Governor Ashe, Philadelphia, December 7, 1797. The records of the Glasgow trial 
tie preserved in the office of the secretary of state, Raleigh, North Carolina. 


fraudulent grants should be changed so as to make them conform 
to the words in the warrants issued legally under the act to give 
lands to the continental soldiers, and for this trifling service 
Sevier asked his correspondent to accept three of the warrants 
for six hundred and forty acres each. 

To the enemies of Sevier the case seemed a clear one. Why, 
they asked, should the entry books be burned by one who had 
good warrants? and why should the governor give Glasgow land 
worth $960 for a service for which the legal fee was one dollar? 
Sevier replied to his critics by saying that he acquired the war- 
rants in a fair way, that he had merely asked Glasgow to con- 
soUdate them into one warrant for his greater convenience in 
disposing of them. In the summer of 1803 there were several 
plain communications in The Tennessee Gazette, attacking or 
defending Sevier. The matter was referred to a committee of 
the assembly which reported against Sevier, but his friends in 
the assembly were strong enough to amend the report by setting 
forth the facts in the case without imputing fault to anybody, 
and in that shape the report passed. It has never been definitely 
ascertained whether Jackson's charges were well grounded or 
not, but he never doubted their truth.' 

In October, 1803, while the controversy was at its height, 
Jackson, on his eastern circuit, came to KnoxvUle to hold court. 
On coming out of the court-house one day, he saw Sevier, who was 
then a candidate for governor, haranguing a crowd not far from 
the building. Sevier's coming to this place for such a purpose 
seems to show that he sought to provoke a conflict, and this 
supposition is strengthened by the fact that as soon as he saw 
Jackson he began to denounce him. The latter, regardless of 
' his judicial dignity, replied in a similar strain, and a turbulent 

ijackson's charges were made in a long communication to The Tennessee Gazette, July 27, 1803; re- 
printed in American Historical Magazine (Nashville,) IV., 374-481. Sevier's reply with a counter blast 
f by "An Elector" appears in the same paper, August 8, 1803. A file of this journal is in the Library 
of Congress. 


scene occurred, in which Sevier, carried away by his emotions, 
declared the only public service he ever heard of Jackson per- 
forming was to run off with another man's wife. This allusion 
to a very dehcate matter was well calculated to throw the object 
of the gibe into a furious rage. "Great God!" he exclaimed, 
"do you mention her sacred name?" and a challenge promptly 
followed.' But Sevier declined to fight on the ground that his 
courage was so well known that he could afford to refuse to 
risk his life in an encounter. This angered Jackson more 
than ever. He sought to bring on an encounter at sight, but 
was not successful; and after some ebullition of feeHng, friends 
interfered and arranged a truce between the two men.' 

The quarrel with Sevier had an important influence on Jack- 
son's political career. As leader of West Tennessee he was 
necessary to the republican organization, and up to this time 
an open rupture was avoided between the two men through the 
efforts of friends; but in the future no truce could exist. Jack- 
son, as the less popular man, suffered in the estimation of the 
public. Sevier's election to the governorship for three terms 
following the land-frauds controversy emphasized his victory 
and discredited his opponent. 

^This account follows Avery's story, which is confused as to dates, and is given with some degree of reser- 
vation. The KnorviUe wrangle, to which Avery refers, plainly occurred in 1803. See VajtojitJackson, I., 163. 

^Inasmuch as several accounts of this affair have been given, the author gives here the substance of ao 
alBdavit by Andrew Greer, an eyewitness, sworn to on October 23, 1803. It proceeds: On the fifteenth 
instant, the af&ant was riding with Governor Sevier and his son "to go to South-west Point," that in the "hol- 
low that leads down to Kingston " they met Judge Jackson with Dr. Vandyke, both armed with pistols, that 
Jackson stopped and conversed with Greer, while Dr. Vandyke rode on, that while he and Jackson were talk- 
ing, be observed Jackson cast his umbrella on the ground, draw one pistol, dismount, draw the other, and 
advance up the road. Turning, he saw Sevier, dismounted and pistol in hand, advancing on Jackson. Within 
twenty paces, the two men halted and began to abuse one another Sevier damning Jackson to fire away; 
but after some words, each replaced his pistol in his holster and began to approach the other, Jackson 
swearing he would cane his antagonist. Sevier then drew his sword, at which his horse was frightened and 
ran off with the owner's pistols in the holsters, Jackson then drew his pistols, and advanced. Sevier leapt be- 
hind a tree and damned Jackson, and did he mean to fire on a naked man? Whereupon young Sevier drew 
his pistol and advanced on Jackson, while Dr. Vandyke drew on young Sevier. After some talk, all the 
pistols were replaced, and the party mounted and rode down the road, Jackson and Sevier within shouting 
distance and still abusing one another. Jackson thus called to Sevier to fight it out on horseback, and Sevier 
replied that his opponent knew that he, Sevier, would not fight in the state. See American Bisioricai Mali- 
»■»«, (Nashvaie), V, ao8.) 


Of a similar influence, but more striking as an incident, was 
the duel with Charles Dickinson, the particulars of which are 
as follows: In 1805, Jackson's noted horse, "Truxton," was 
backed in a race against Captain Joseph Ervin's "Plowboy," 
and a forfeit of $800, payable in certain specified notes, was 
agreed upon if the race was not run. Before the day fixed, the 
race was cancelled by Ervin, and the forfeit was paid without 
dispute. A short time afterward a report was out that the 
notes tendered were not those which were specified in the original 
agreement. Dickinson was Ervin's son-in-law and was con- 
cerned with him in behalf of "Plowboy." One of his friends 
was Thomas Swann, a young spark from Virginia; and he asked 
Jackson if the report about the notes was true. Swann alleged 
that the reply to his question was in the affirmative and so in- 
formed Dickinson, who saw Jackson and asked if the report 
which had come to him, Dickinson, were true. The general 
quickly replied that the author of the report had told a damned 
lie; and then he was told that it came from Swann, between 
whom and Jackson a question of veracity was thus raised. It 
was reaUy the merest word-play; for Jackson claimed that what 
he had said was that Ervin offered to pay the forfeit in notes 
not strictly those agreed upon, while the other claimed that Jack- 
son said that the list of notes offered, out of which the forfeit was 
to be paid, was not the hst which was specified in the original 
agreement, and that there was a great deal of difference between 
notes offered and the list of notes offered. Small as the point 
was, it was large enough to support a quarrel between men who 
were already sensitive in their relations to each other. 

Swann became noisy and insisted that Jackson give him the 
satisfaction which a gentleman had the right to claim. His 
opponent in the affair replied by saying that he would give him 
a caning, and he followed the threat with actions. If he had 
done no more, the result would have been eventless; but in his 


replies to Swann he used rasping expressions about Dickinson, 
whom he persisted in thinking responsible for the young Vir- 
ginian's attacks. This gave the controversy a new character. 
Dickinson was regarded as the best rifle shot of the West, and 
he probably did not fear an encounter with Jackson. He cer- 
tainly did not try to avoid one. When he saw in the Nashville 
paper a letter written by Jackson in which his motives were de- 
nounced, he wrote a scathing and contemptuous reply and sent 
it to the editor. Jackson knew about it before it was published, 
and he waited not one instant, but sent a challenge naming his 
friend, General Thomas Overton, as his second. 

Whatever we may think of the morality of duelling, it will 
be conceded by most people that to receive at ten paces the 
fire of an angry enemy requires no little physical courage. Some 
men have entered such encounters impetuously or because 
they shrank from a public opinion which approved duelling as a 
test of a man's bravery; but in Jackson's duel with Dickinson 
neither of these causes operated. Each man went into the affair 
deliberately, and each had determined to kill the other if he 
could. The conditions were such that each must have realized 
that one or the other was likely to be slain; yet they went to 
the meeting without a tremor. In the quarrel which had pre- 
ceded the challenge each man called the other the most abusive 
epithets. "A worthless, drunken, blackguard scoundrel" was 
one of the descriptions which Jackson gave of his opponent, who 
retaliated in kind; but when the business reached the actual 
challenge it was conducted with the exact politeness which is 
demanded between perfect gentlemen; such was the way of 

-T*- Jackson's challenge was sent on May 22, 1806, and the date 
of the meeting was fixed for the thirtieth of the same month. 
The weapons were to be pistols, and the distance was eight 
yards. The place of the encounter was in Kentucky just beyond 


the state line at a point north of Nashville. Dickinson rode out 
to the grounds with confidence, accompanied by a gay group 
of his young companions. As he passed an inn, so it is said, he 
fired at a string by which some object was suspended, his ball 
cutting it half through, and he told the inn-keeper to show the 
string to General Jackson if he passed that way. 

In the meantime Jackson and his second, General Overton, 
riding to the duelling grounds were discussing the manner in 
which they should meet the antagonist. It had been agreed 
that the two men should stand facing the same direction, and 
that at the word they should turn toward each other and fire 
as they chose. Between Overton and his principal all the 
chances in such an encounter were gone over: they agreed that 
Dickinson should be allowed to fire first. Like most crack 
shots, he was a quick one; and they thought that he would 
probably fire first anyway and at least hit his opponent: Jack- 
son was sure to hit in a deliberate shot, but if he fired quickly 
and an instant after he was hit by a baU, his aim would probably 
be destroyed. 

The surmise of the two men proved correct: when aU was 
ready in the early morning and Overton gave the word "Fire!" 
the pistol of Dickinson rose instantly, there was a quick flash 
and report, and Jackson was seen to press his hand tightly over 
his chest, although his taU figure did not tremble. Dickinson 
was seized with terror. " Great God ! " he cried, "have I missed 
him?" He thought it impossible that he should not hit a man 
at twenty-four feet. For a moment he shrank from the peg 
till a stem word from Overton brought him again to an erect 

Jackson now had his opponent at his mercy. He stood glower- 
ing at him for an instant, and then his long pistol arm came 
slowly to a horizontal position. Dickinson shuddered and turned 
away his head. Jackson's eye ran along the pistol barrel, 


deliberately adjusting the aim, and then he pulled the trigger. 
But there was no explosion. A hurried consultation by the 
seconds revealed that the hammer stopped at half-cock, which 
by the rules agreed upon was not to count as a fire; and Jackson 
was given another shot. Again he took careful aim at the poor 
victim who all the time stood awaiting his fate, and this time 
the pistol fired. The ball cut a large artery, and Dickinson 
died that night. Jackson walked triumphantly from the 
field, carefully concealing from his attendants the fact that 
he was wounded; for he wanted his dying antagonist to think 
his shot failed. "I should have hit him," Jackson once 
said, "if he had shot me through the brain." 

The coolness he displayed in this duel brought much criti- 
cism on Jackson. He did, undoubtedly, fail to show magnan- 
imity, but that was never one of his virtues. If instead of 
shooting down an unresisting man he had fired into the air and 
refused to fire again, pubUc opinion would have justified him; 
for one did not have to face Dickinson's pistol a second time 
to prove his courage. It is plain enough that he killed the man 
whom he hated because he wanted to kill him; and it was little 
less than murder. Dickinson had many friends in West Ten- 
nessee, and they denounced bitterly his slayer. The contro- 
versy became general and bitter, and the large number of peo- 
ple who took sides against Jackson, added to those who were al- 
ready his opponents on account of the quarrel with Sevier, ma- 
terially lessened his influence in the political life of the state.' 

The natural result of this reversal of sentiment was to fix 
Jackson in private life. He remained at the "Hermitage," de- 
voting himself to his plantation and his blooded horses, trying 
in vain to bring his mercantile business out of the cor fusion 
into which it was fallen. He retained his position as comm ander- 
in-chief of the militia of the western district; and thiqi 

'Ptrtoo, JacisoH, I., Chapten ii to >7. 


him no mean station. He was recognized as peculiarly suited 
for that kind of duty, his officers liked him, and it was his pride 
that he could call out a fuU quota of men, if the war which al- 
ways s,eemed imminent should at last arrive. But in the annals 
of the community, and in his own voluminous collection of papers 
relating to his career, there is almost nothing in this period 
which makes his course interesting above that of any other 
well esteemed citizen of West Tennessee. In fact, it is two 
other quarrels which bridge over the period between the Burr 
incident in i8c6-'o7, and the Creek campaign in 18 13, which 
were to make him one of most commanding figures in the country. 
An honest Indian agent and a faithful supporter were the ob- 
jects of these angry outbursts. 

SUas Dinsmore was United States agent among the Choctaws. 
He gave satisfaction to the government and won the esteem of 
the Indians, but became objectionable to many persons Uving 
in the Mississippi Territory. His agency-house was on the 
great road from NashvUle to Natchez, and the planters living 
south of it complained that their slaves were accustomed to 
run away along this road in company with pretended masters 
and that it was his duty to arrest them. Whereupon he an- 
nounced that he would detain every slave traveling with a white 
man, imless the latter had a certificate that the Negro was his 
property; and he enforced the rule strictly. There now arose 
louder complaint than ever. Without knowing of the regula- 
tion a master would arrive at the agency to meet an annoying 
delay tiU he could get proof of ownership of his slaves, and then 
he would go on his way with loud complaints against the offi- 
cious agent who delayed him. Nashville was the next stopping 
place on the way north and most of their tales of woe were un- 
burdened there. The lamentations reached the ears of the 
secretary of war, who instructed Dinsmore to use discretion in 
enforcing his rule; but the agent replied that he could not 


undertake to decide by appearances the claims of masters who 
passed him, and he continued to require certificates of all. 

Jackson never saw both sides of a subject; and to him Dins- 
more was a perverse official who needed to be disciplined. He 
spoke his mind freely about a man who tried to impede the 
passage of an American citizen along the pubhc roads, and Dins- 
more heard of his threats. In his trading Jackson took all 
kinds of things which the people bought and sold and thus he 
frequently got possession of slaves which he sent to the southern 
country for sale. Such a venture he made about the time the 
feeling against Dinsmore was at its height; but his Natchez 
agent mismanaged the affair, and he went to that place in person 
to bring the slaves home. On his return he must pass the Choc- 
taw agency, and he determined to give Dinsmore what he con- 
sidered a proper rebuke. He armed two of his trusted Negroes, 
took a rifle in his own hands, and in this fashion marched on 
the enemy. He had no certificates that he owned his slaves, 
and trouble seemed imminent, but the agent proved to be 
absent, and the cavalcade passed the house without incident. 

In Nashville Jackson now became more violent than ever, 
swearing that if any more slaves were detained he would bum 
both agent and agency. Soon afterward a lady arrived in the 
town reporting that her ten slaves were detained for lack of 
passports. At the same time the town paper contained an 
announcement from Dinsmore that he would execute the rules 
of his ofl&ce. Jackson was already striving to secure the removal 
of Dinsmore. To G. W. Campbell, congressman from Tennes- 
see, he sent a blazing letter. "My God!" he exclaimed. "Is 
it come to this? Are we freemen, or are we slaves? Is this 
real or is it a dream? . . . Can the Secretary of War for , 
one moment retain the idea that we will permit this petty tyrant 
to sport with our rights secured to us by treaty, and which by 
the law of nature we do possess, and sport with our feelings 


by publishing his lawless tyranny exercised over a helpless and 
unprotected female? " 

This fiery appeal effected nothing. Dinsmore kept his place 
for the time; but in the following year, 18 12, he lost it because 
he happened to be absent when an important crisis occurred 
in Indian affairs and when a man was needed on the spot imme- 
diately. Jackson never forgave him for what he considered 
usurpation of authority; and he exerted himself after the war, 
when his influence with the war department was great, to 
prevent Dinsmore's reappointment to the Choctaw agency. 
The incident illustrates Jackson's extreme sensitiveness to the 
restraint of his actions by another and his readiness to take the 
lead in protesting against what he deemed a wrong;' and his 
side of the contention was, probably, nearer right than Dins- 
more's. It was sheer wrong-headedness in the agent to retaliate 
for criticism, although it was unfounded, by a practice which 
could in no sense be a public service, and to persist in it in the 
face of imiversal opposition. Jackson was not alone in his 
position; for Governor Blount, Felix Grundy, and Poindexter, 
of Mississippi, all protested to the secretary of war against 

His other noted quarrel of this period was with the two Ben- 
tons, and it occurred in 1813. One of his friends was William 
Carroll, destined to have an important military and political 
career in Tennessee. He was then a young man and recently 
arrived in Nashville; and from a certain superior air which 
he had he was unpopular with the young gentlemen of the 
town. Jackson quickly recognized his soldierly qualities and 
supported him so well that the other militia ofl&cers became 
jealous. A quarrel ensued and from one of them Carroll got 

'■PiTtOTX, JacksoH, I., 349-3'5o. 

■Blount to Jackson, Much ao, i8z}; Blouat to the secietary of war, March 22, iSii, and Gtuady to 
Jackson, Febnurr 13, xSza; Jackson MsB. 


a challenge. He declined on the ground that the sender was 
not a gentleman. Another challenger was found, but the same 
reply was given. Then the officers induced Jesse, the brother 
of Thomas Hart Benton, to send a challenge; and this was 
accepted. Carroll now found that none of the yotmg men of 
the town would act as his second, and he asked Jackson to do 
him that service, who at first declined on the ground of his 
superior age, and because after investigation the groimds of 
the quarrel did not seem to justify a duel. He sought Jesse 
Benton and got him to agree that the matter should be dropped; 
but that young man's friends easily persuaded him into a re- 
newal of his demands. Jackson then became impatient with 
Benton and agreed to act as Carroll's second. 

The duel which followed was a farce. The parties were 
placed back to back, and at a given word they wheeled and 
fired. Benton discharged his weapon first, and, in order to 
expose as small a target as possible, came to a crouching posi- 
tion. His opponent's baU struck the lower part of his back 
and made a long raking flesh wound in the buttock. The 
unfortunate man suffered more from ridicule than from the 

When this duel was fought, Thomas Hart Benton was in Wash- 
ington. It was just after Jackson's Natchez expedition and 
Benton's taste of miHtary life in that undertaking gave him a 
desire for a permanent career in the army. His business in 
Washington was to get such a position and he carried with him 
a recommendation from Jackson. He sought also to get certain 
accounts of Jackson's allowed by the government, an errand 
which, however, was rendered of little account by the small 
disposition of the war department to refuse to pay them.' 
While returning to Nashville, he learned of the duel in which 
Jackson was second on the opposite side to his brother, Jesse. 

• Sie below 8& 


That sensitive young man sent him a long accovint of the affair 
in which the action of the general was placed in as bad a light 
as possible. Thereupon, Thomas wrote Jackson a letter, the 
tone of which was cooler than he was accustomed to use toward 
his old friend and received a reply in the same key. Ofl&cious 
acquaintances repeated to each man remarks which the other 
was reported to have used till at last Jackson declared that he 
would horsewhip Thomas Benton on sight. 

Had some quieting spirit interfered at this point, it is possi- 
ble that the matter could have been checked where it was; 
but no such spirit existed in the community, and the affair ran 
rapidly into one of the most disgraceful encoimters of the day. 
Benton neither sought nor avoided it. On reaching home he 
went to Nashville on business, taking the precaution to put up 
at a tavern at which Jackson was not in the habit of staying 
when in town. Busybodies hurried to the "Hermitage" with the 
news and its owner determined to carry out his threat. He rode 
into town in the afternoon and stopped at the usual place. Next 
morning with Coffee he crossed the public square to the post-ofEce 
and observed Benton standing in the doorway of his own tavern. 
"Do you see that fellow?" said Coffee. "Oh yes," was the re- 
ply, " I have my eye on him." Returning from the post-office the 
two men passed directly by the doorway in which the enemy 
was displaying himself. As they reached the spot, Jackson 
wheeled sharply in front of his foe, raised a riding-whip, and ex- 
claimed, "Now you damned rascal, I am going to punish you! 
Defend yourself!" Benton, while endeavoring to draw a pistol 
from his breast pocket, retreated backward down a hallway, his 
adversary following with a pistol in his hand. As they passed 
a side door Jesse Benton rushed out of it, and, believing his 
brother to be in imminent danger, emptied his pistol into the 
shoulder of Jackson, who had not seen him. The wounded 
man feU to the floor. Coffee had joined the mfille and now 


continued the pursuit of Thomas, who stumbled and fell down 
a stairway which he had not seen, thus saving himself from 
the vengeance of the towering figure which pursued him. In 
the meantime, another friend of Jackson feU on the other of 
the two brothers, threw him to the floor, and was about to do 
him serious harm when the bystanders interfered. With 
this the combat ended. Jackson received a painful flesh wound, 
the effects of which he long felt; but it did not seriously in- 
convenience him, while neither of the others was injured. 

From being one of Jackson's trusted political allies Benton 
now found all the general's friends arrayed against him, and 
his poUtical prospects in Tennessee vanished. At the same 
time, he got the position in the army which he desired, lieuten- 
ant-colonel of the Tenth Regiment of regulars; but the pro- 
motion did not bring satisfaction, for the recent turn of mili- 
tary affairs in the Southwest made Jackson supreme there, and 
under him Benton could hope for no advancement. During the 
rest of the war, while other Termesseeans won glory in the Creek 
country and at New Orleans, he was kept on duty with detach- 
ments sent to keep the Indians quiet, and the return of peace 
saw him stiU a Ueutenant-colonel. It was for this reason that 
he turned his face westward, seeking a place where his course 
would not be blocked by the hostility of Jackson. In 1815 
he settled in Missouri, where his career soon became very bril- 
liant. Later in Ufe he became reconciled to his old enemy 
and earlier friend; and in the stem struggles of the latter's 
presidency he was one of the most devoted of his defenders. 
But Jesse Benton never forgave Jackson, and he signalized his 
hostility by writing some bitter attacks on him in the presi- 
dential campaigns of 1824 and 1828. 

On Jackson, himself, the effect of these repeated encounters 
was little less injurious than on Benton. They not only in- 
creased the number of his enemies, but they served to make 


impartial men think that he was not a man to be trusted in 
pubUc Ufa. They also mcreased his irritability, as he himself 
recognized. He even thought of moving from Tennessee in 
order to make a new start in hfe. He turned his eyes to Missis- 
sippi, where he thought of getting a judgeship. Two reasons 
which he gave for this action show the state of his 
mind in 1810: 

"From my pursuits for several years past," he said, "from 
many impleasant occurrences that took place during that time 
it has given my mind such a turn of thought, that I have laboured 
to get clear off. I have found this impossible,and unless [I have] 
some new pursuit to employ my mind and thoughts, I find 
it impossible to divert myself of those habits of gloomy and 
peevish reflections that the wanton and flagitous conduct, and 
unremitted reflections of base calmnny, heaped upon me has 
given rise to; and in order to try the experiment how far new 
scenes might relieve me from this unpleasant tone of thought, 
I did conclude to accept that appointment in case it was 
offered me." 

His second reason was more in keeping with our usual ideas 
of his motives. "From a temporizing disposition displayed 
by congress," he declared, "I am well aware that no act of 
insult, degradation or contumely offered to our Government 
will arouse them from their present lethargy and temporizing 
conduct, until my namesake sets fire to some of our seaport 
towns and puts his foot aboard a British man-of-war. . . . 
From all which I conclude that as a mihtary man I shall have 
no amusement or business, and indolence and inaction would 
shortly destroy me." ' 

Jackson might well think that the hand of fate was against 
him. When he left the bench in 1804, he gave up his last con- 
nection with civU hfe. He felt little interest in the career of 

ijackson to J. Whitesides, February xo, x8io; Jackson Mss. 


lawyer, lawmaker, or judge, and his success as a merchant was 
not reassuring. Tennessee had passed beyond its frontier 
stage of development: it demanded, in civil matters, a more 
temperate, intellectual, and self-control] ed leader than Jackson, 
and if in 1810 he had become a judge in Mississippi Territory 
he would merely have followed the frontier, to whose conditions 
he was best adapted. 

But there was one chance of his reappearance in public life 
in his own state. In spite of aU disappointments, war was at 
last coming and in its course England would encourage the 
Indians to attack the Southwestern settlements. Again would 
the border caU for a man of elemental force, one whose wiU, 
courage, sagacity, and power of command could organize the 
rude men around him into an effective fighting machine and 
direct it for the safety of his country. Just such a man was 
Jackson. From 1802 he was in command of the miUtia, always 
waiting for the chance to distinguish himself in battle. And 
now, late in 181 2, the hour struck. 



Jackson's rise into prominence in the militia was due to native 
soldierly qualities which were early manifested and always 
evident. The Tennesseeans of the day were of necessity much 
engaged in war and in the preparations for it. Many of them 
were revolutionary soldiers, men who fought in the continental 
line and moved west to take the lands which were given them as 
rewards for that service. These soldiers furnished the of&cers 
and some of the privates in what was probably the best body of 
militia ever seen in America. Such people were apt to know a 
soldier when they saw him ; and one who had the talents to be a 
revolutionary trooper at thirteen and the hero of New Orleans at 
forty-eight would hardly fail to impress them. 

For Jackson there was much inducement to escape from the 
law into the soldier's caUing. For ten years after his arrival there 
was constant danger of a separation of the West from the sea- 
board region: when that subsided all eyes turned to the task 
of thrusting the Spaniards out of New Orleans: and when the 
purchase treaty of 1803 solved that problem there remained the 
growing belief that war must come with England, and prob- 
ably with her protected ally, Spain, during which Canada and 
Florida would offer fields for glorious achievement. If war 
should come from either of these causes the Cumberland district 
would be a most important part of the situation. Jackson 
understood this and from an early day in his residence sought 
military office. 

Two groups of politicians controlled affairs in Tennessee at 



the time with which we are now concerned. One of them was 
led by the Blounts, William, the first territorial governor, and 
Willie,' his brother: the other was led by John Sevier, through 
many daring exploits the hero of the people. He was not the 
equal of either of the Blounts as a politician or as a statesman, 
but whenever he asked for office, the people gave it. Blount 
was governor under the territorial regime and retired from the 
office in 1796 to be United States senator. He was succeeded 
by Sevier who was reelected till 1801, when he could not by 
constitutional Hmitation be chosen again for two years. But 
after that interval, during which Archibald Roane, who was 
friendly with the Blounts, was governor, he again came into 
office in 1803 and held it for another period of six years. 

As a part of the territorial organization Jackson came to be 
identified with the Blount group, and this brought him into op- 
position to Sevier.' It therefore happened that when Sevier 
was governor there was no possible appointment for Jackson 
which depended on the will of the governor, although in those 
offices which depended on votes of the people or on the assem- 
bly, he had abundant success. It was fortunate for Jackson 
that the two events most critical in his military career, his elec- 
tion as major-general and the outbreak of the war of 181 2, came, 
one during the short interval between his opponent's two periods 
of office-holding and the other after the expiration of the second 

When Tennessee became a state in 1796 it was divided into 
three miUtia districts, one of which was Mero. The militia of 
each county constituted a regiment and that of a district made 
a brigade, with one calvary regiment attached to each brigade. 
Company and regimental officers were to be elected by persons 
Uable to militia duty, and commissions were to be issued by the 

'Pronounced Wi-lie. 

^For the Sevier-Jackson quarrel see above pp. S5-6o. 


governor. The field officers of each district elected the briga- 
dier-general; and the field officers of all the districts, brigadier- 
generals included, elected a major-general who commanded the 
militia of the whole state. If there should be a tie vote in the 
selection of the major-general, the governor was to cast the decid- 
ing vote. These features of the miUtia system were unchanged 
during Jackson's major-generalship. The effect was essentially 
democratic. Personal jealousies sometimes entered into the 
elections, and the system did not tend to secure military sub- 
ordination, but it facilitated the rise into power of a reaUy capable 
man, like Jackson; and under his direction it became a good 
piece of fighting machinery.' 

The first suggestion we have of Jackson's interest in the mUi- 
tia system is found in a plan which he sent in 179 1 to Governor 
Blount, who liked it so weU that he forwarded it to the secretary 
of war.' A year later, September 10, 1792, he appointed the 
author judge advocate of the Davidson County regiment.' James 
Robertson, who with John Donelson, Jackson's father-in-law, 
was joint leader of the original Nashville settlement, and who was 
now the leading military man on the Cumberland, seems to have 
urged Jackson's appointment to a line command. The gov- 
ernor was wUling and wrote : " Can't you contrive for Hay to resign 
and I wiU promote Donelson [now second major] and appoint 
Jackson second major?"* The scheme did not succeed, and in 
1796 he was not a field officer, as he himself says.' His promotion 
was probably to colonelcy, for he was spoken of on December 7, 
1797, by that title. But his ambition was for major-general- 
ship. At the first election to that office, in 1796, he was a can- 

iScDtt, La-ws of Tennessee, I., ssg. 

'Gov. Blount to General Robertson, September 21, li^l, American Hislorical Magazine (Nashville), I., 193. 

■See American Historical Magazine (Nashville), II., 23Z. Nashville is located in Davidson county. Jack- 
son was not one of those commissioned by Eloimt in 1790 when he created the militia esLablishment for the 
newly organized territory. 

'Blount to Robertson, October 28, 1792, American Historical Magazine (Nashville) II., 84, 

'Jackson to Sevier, May 8, 1797, Jackson Mss.; also American Historical Magazine (Nashville), V., 118. 


didate and had the opposition of Sevier, who in the heat of later 
controversy asserted that he would not at that time consent 
to the election of an inexperienced man.' The office went to 
Conway, who died during Roane's term as governor. In the 
election to fill the vacancy Jackson and Sevier each receive d 
seventeen votes and James Winchester had three. Roane 
cast, the deciding vote in favor of the first of the three, who thus 
arrived at the top of his ambition in February, 1802.° But this 
dignity was shorn of half its strength by the passage, November 
5, 1803, of a new mihtia act by which there were to be two divi- 
sions of militia each to be commanded by a major-general. 
Eleven counties in West Tennessee were to constitute the second 
division, and over this Jackson retained command; while four- 
teen counties in East Tennessee made up the first division, over 
which a major-general was to be elected.' In this condition the 
militia system remained substantially till the beginning of 
the war. 

The ten years following Jackson's election as major-general 
were years of expectancy. They brought him three calls from 
the government: one in 1803 when it was feared that Spain would 
not give up Louisiana without force, one in 1806 in order to defeat 
Burr's alleged conspiracy, and one in 1809 when the government 
planned a secret attack against West Florida.* In each case 
his response was decided and was seconded by the enthusiastic 
support of the militia under his command. "Rest assured," 
he said, "that should the Tocsin of war be sounded the hardy 
sons of the west that I have the honor to command will deserve 

^American Historical Magazine, Nashville, V., Ii6. 

*Scc David Campbell to Jackson, January 25, 1802. Jackson Mss. 

^Acts of Tennessee, 1st session,sth General Assembly, Chapter I., November s, 1803. 

On the first, see G. W. Campbell to Jackson, October 29, 1S03; William Dickson to Jackson, October 31 
and November 20, 1803; Jackson to the secretary of war, November 12, 1803 and January 13, 1804, Jackson 
Mss, and Jackson to Jefierson, n. d.,in Jefferson Mss., Library of Congress, volume 46, number 46. On 
the second see above, 46-49. On the third, see Jackson to Winchester, March 15, 1809, and Sevier to 
Jackson, January 12, 1S09, Jackson Mss. 


well of their country.'" The assertion is supported by ample 
evidence in his unpubUshed correspondence, and it marks the 
extent to which his extraordinary leadership was accepted by the 
people around him. 

In 1812 war was declared against England, when there seemed 
no other excuse for it than to wipe out the disgrace of a long 
and spiritless inactivity. To the people of West Tennessee it 
gave peculiar joy: Spain was in such close alliance with England 
that it seemed inevitable that she would be brought into the 
struggle; and this would give the long desired opportunity to 
take vengeance for many wrongs on the frontier. But the cau- 
tious congress refused to draw Spain into the conflict, and His 
Catholic Majesty was not willing to risk his hold on Florida by 
becoming involved in a war to which he could contribute no 

Two years before the war began, the Indians of the West, un- 
der the guidance of the British, were planning to form a great 
combination to protect themselves against the fatal advance of 
the whites. The movement was led by Tecumseh and his brother, 
the Prophet, and aimed to unite both the northwestern and the 
southwestern tribes in a great confederacy. It aroused so much 
alarm that the Indiana and Kentucky mihtia under Harrison 
moved suddenly on the northwestern tribes in 1810 and dealt 
them a severe blow at Tippecanoe. This expedition was watched 
with great interest in Tennessee, and when news came that it 
was involved in difficulties Jackson wrote hurriedly and fervently 
to Harrison offering on request to come to his assistance with 
five hundred West Tennesseeans.' Correct news from the north- 
ward soon dissipated all the hopes which sprang from this 

But the war spirit was alive in the West and continued to 

'Jackson to Servier, December 30, 1805, Jackson Mss. 
Vackson to Winchester, November 28, 1811, Jackson Mss. 


grow. In the winter of 1811-1812 it made itself felt in con- 
gress, the western members taking the lead. Long before hos- 
tilities were authorized the impetuous Jackson believed that 
they were at hand. Six months beforehand he was using every 
avenue of influence open to him to obtain service at the head of 
his faithful militiamen. To Governor Willie Blount he wrote 
saying that with ten days' notice he could take the field at the 
head of four thousand men, and engaging within ninety days 
to be before Quebec with two thousand five hundred. The 
governor did not think this an idle boast: he transmitted the 
information to the secretary of war approvingly and added by 
way of vouching for Jackson: "He loves his coimtry and his 
countrymen have full confidence in him. He deUghts in peace; 
but does not fear war. He has a peculiar pleasure in treating his 
enemies as such; with them his first pleasure is to meet them on 
the field. At the present crisis he feels a holy zeal for the welfare 
of the United States, and at no period of his life has he been 
known to feel otherwise. His understanding and integrity may 
be confided in. He is independent and liberal in mind; easy in 
his circumstances; generous and open in his habits and manners. 
He ought to command his volunteers." ' 

February 6, 181 2, congress, in anticipation of hostilities, au- 
thorized the enlistment of fiity thousand volunteers. The in- 
formation brought enthusiasm to the Tennesseeans, who for 
months had petitioned in town meetings and in the legislature 
for an appeal to arms. March 7, Jackson sent to his division a 
ringing call for volunteers.' The people, he urged, had long 
demanded war; now let them prove their sincerity by offering 
their services. The reponse justified his anticipations; June 25, 
a week after war was declared by congress, he offered the Presi- 
dent twenty-five hundred volimteers. In due time the tender 

*BIount to Eustis, January 25, 1812, Jackson Mss. 
'See Jackson Mss. 


was formally accepted,' but orders for immediate service did 
not arrive. 

WMle he waited to hear from Washington he was dreaming of 
conquering Florida, and on July 21, he expressed his feelings in 
a passionate proclamation to his division.' "You burn with 
anxiety," he said, "to learn on what theatre your arms will find 
employment. Then turn your eyes to the South! Behold in the 
province of West Florida, a territory whose rivers and harbors, 
are indispensable to the prosperity of the western, and still 
more so, to the eastern division of our state. Behold there like- 
wise the asylum from which an insiduous hand incites to rapine 
and bloodshed, the ferocious savages, who have just stained 
our frontier with blood, and who will renew their outrages the 
moment an EngUsh force shall appear in the Bay of Pensacola. 
It is here that an employment adapted to your situation awaits 
your courage and your zeal, and while extending in this quarter 
the boimdaries of the Repubhc to the Gulf of Mexico, you will 
experience a pecuUar satisfaction in having conferred a signal 
benefit on that section of the Union to which you yourselves 
immediately belong." During the next two years Jackson 
issued many proclamations to his troops: they were usually 
drafted by himself and finished by an aide. Although the 
rhetoric was inclined to be turgid, the language was direct and 
impelling. They suited the people to whom they were addressed. 

In the meantime, the President and cabinet decided to occupy 
the Floridas, if congress would authorize it. They reckoned 
badly; for Madison's enemies suddenly became warm defenders 
of the rights of neutrality and raUied enough votes in the 
senate to defeat the proposed expedition. On February 
12, 1 8 13, however, they voted to authorize the occupa- 
tion of Mobile and the region west of the Perdido, a task 

^See Jackson Mss. 

'Secretary of War to Governor Blount, July ii, 1813, Jackson Mss. 


which was easily performed by the regular troops under 

Madison did not expect this decision and long before it was 
made was preparing to send an expedition into Florida. Early 
in November, 1812, the governor of Tennessee received a call for 
fifteen hundred volunteers for the defense of New Orleans. That 
place was not threatened, but it was not good policy to reveal 
the real destination of the force before congress acted in refer- 
ence to the expedition. To the Tenesseeans the order brought 
real joy. Governor Bloimt forwarded it to Jackson as soon as 
it was received in Knoxvillle and followed in person in order 
to aid in dispatching the detachment. In a patriotic procla- 
mation of November 12, the major-general called his forces into 
the field and fixed December 10 as the date of the rendezvous. 

The spirit of the militia was excellent. In the preceding 
spring, in response to Jackson's manifesto of March 7, two thou- 
sand seven hundred and fifty of them signified their willingness 
to volunteer in case there should be war. Now, although the 
call was for only fifteen himdred, there came to Nashville at 
the appointed time two thousand and seventy men, and the 
question was, should all of them be accepted ? After a moment's 
hesitation Governor Bloimt authorized the mustering of the 
whole force, and Jackson hurried forward its equipment. In 
ordinary experience two months is not too much to muster, 
organize, and bring into marching condition two thousand 
militia; but it was more than Jackson would now have. By the 
end of the year he was ready to march, and on January 7, 1813, 
the expedition was put into motion. The infantry, fourteen 
himdred strong, went down the river in flat-bottomed boats, 
and the cavalry, which numbered six hundred and seventy, pro- 
ceeded by land under the command of Colonel Coffee. The 
point of concentration was Natchez. 

When Governor Blount submitted to Jackson his orders from 


Washington it was seen to be doubtful if the latter would com- 
mand the detachment. In the first place the numbers in the 
detachment did not seem to require a major-general for comman- 
der; in the second place they were merely to march to New Or- 
leans where they would be under Wilkinson's orders and for this 
a brigadier-general was ample. Moreover, the secretary in 
his call on the governor made no reference to Jackson's tender 
of service in the preceding winter, and the inference was pretty 
plain that he did not desire to utihze it.' If such was the secre- 
tary's intention he was perhaps not much to blame; for Jackson's 
antipathy to the commander at New Orleans was well known in 
Washington. No good could have been expected from bringing 
the two men together under the proposed conditions. 

Jackson reaUzed the seriousness of this situation and with 
a moderation unusual for him offered to subordinate his 
feeUng and serve anywhere his country might call him.' There 
is no doubt that he was honest in his intention, but it is never- 
theless fortunate that he had no opportunity to test his power 
of executing his resolve. 

Governor Blount took legal advice and decided that, inasmuch 
as the secretary's orders were not expKcit, discretion was given 
him as governor to appoint the commander of the expedition as 
seemed best. Accordingly one of the seventy blank commissions 
which came ready signed from Washington was filled with the 
name of Andrew Jackson, who thus became major-general of 
United States volunteers. Under him served no brigadier-general, 
but there were three colonels, two commanding infantry regi- 
ments, and another, the redoubtable Coffee, leading the one 
cavahy regiment. 

Colonel John Coffee deserves a special word of description. 
He was a tall, broad-shouldered, and honest Westerner, married 

'Secretary of War to Blount, October 2i and 23, i8iJ, Jackson Msa 
ajacksoa to Blount, November 11, iSzz, Jackson Mss. 


to a niece of Mrs. Jackson and thus bound to his superior 
both by family feeling and by long estabUshed friendship. Before 
this he had been Jackson's business partner; but the qualities 
which made him a poor merchant did not keep him from being a 
good soldier. He was brave, energetic, and always loyal; and he 
was destined to prove an invaluable first assistant to his chief 
on many a field of battle from 1813 to 1815. Two other subor- 
dinates must not be omitted. Thomas Hart Benton, who began 
the campaign as lieutenant-colonel of one of the two infantry 
regiments but was soon made aide to the general, was later to be 
a large figure among those political friends who made the success 
of the Jacksonian party possible. John Reid, another aide, 
was a man of real intellectual ability. He served his superior 
faithfully till the end of the New Orleans campaign, and before 
his xmtimely death wrote the larger part of the biography 
which is usually ascribed to Eaton. 

Barton well says that the heart of Western Tennessee went 
down the river with this Natchez expedition. The militia organ- 
ization was closely associated with the political organization 
and the leading persons in the commimity were at its head. 
It was they who volunteered to go to New Orleans. If they 
returned victorious they would have added power over the imag- 
ination of the community. Their patriotism, also, was not ques- 
tioned. Every impulse of this new region sprang spontaneously 
to the defense of their country. The governor sped them with 
an outburst of pious confidence which a calmer people might 
have flouted. Jackson sent for reply a letter in which was 
an unwonted tone of humility. 

"Brought up," he said, "under the tyranny of Britain, al- 
tho' young I embarked in the struggle for our hberties, in which 
I lost everything that was dear to me, my brothers and my fortune! 
for which I have been amply repaid, by living under the mild 
administration of a repubhcan government. To maintain 


whicli and the independent rights of our nation, is a duty I have 
ever owed to my country, myself and posterity. And when I 
do all I can for its support, I have only done my duty, and it 
will be ever grateful to my reflection, if I find my acts and my 
exertions meet your approbation. I sincerely respond to your 
Excellency's letter, in praying that the God of battles may be 
with us, and that high Heaven may bestow its choicest benedic- 
tions on all who have engaged in this expedition." ' 

The river trip was vmeventful, and on February 15, 18 13, the 
boats arrived at Natchez where they found Coffee's regiment 
and joined them on the sixteenth. To Jackson's surprise he found, 
also, a letter from Wilkinson ordering him to halt where he was 
and await further instructions. Several reasons for the order 
were given by its author. He had received no commands from 
Washington in regard to the expedition; he could not furnish 
it with provisions in New Orleans; and if, as he supposed, the 
detachment was to be sent against Florida it could best proceed 
on that service from some point on the river above New Orleans, 
as from Natchez or Baton Rouge. All these reasons were cour- 
teously expressed in several letters to which Jackson repHed in 
similar strain." 

Wilkinson may be pardoned if he desired to avoid a possible 
conflict with Jackson. He had a letter in his possession from 
Governor Blount, informing him that the Tennessee detachment 
was a coordinate command.' Probably he did not know that 
the Tennessee commander was bringing with him, in spite of 
many pacific assertions, the pair of duelhng pistols which did 
service in the affair with Dickinson. It was fortunate that these 
two men were not to be thrown into close association. 

Jackson was greatly disappointed at his enforced idleness 

ijackson to Blount, January 4, i8u, Jackson Mss. 

' Wilkinson to Jackson, January 22 and 25, February 32, and March i and 8, 1813. Jackson to Wilkinson 
February 21, March is, 1813, Jackson Mss. 
•Wilkinson to Jackson, February 27, 1813, Jackson Mes. 


in Natchez. He placed his army in camp four miles from the 
place and awaited orders to move. After an exasperating month 
of inactivity he received on March 15 a still greater disappoint- 
ment. It came in a brief letter from Armstrong, secretary of 
war, which ran as follows : 

Sir: — The causes of embodying and marching to New Or- 
leans the corps under your command having ceased to exist 
you wUl, on the receipt of this letter, consider it as dismissed 
from the public service, and take measures to have deUvered over 
to Major-General Wilkinson all the articles of public property 
which may have been put into its possession. You wiU accept 
for yourself and the corps the thanks of the President of the 
United States.' 

This order was preposterous, and Armstrong, who was only 
two days in oi£ce when it was written, could hardly have under- 
stood its full purport. It meant that the volunteers were to be 
turned adrift in the wilderness, to return to their homes as they 
could, and with small thanks for their patriotism. March 22, 
after there was time to hear from Natchez, the secretary explained 
that he wrote his dismissal in the belief that it would reach 
the troops before they went far on their journey, and he gave 
full instructions for paying the expenses of the return to Nash- 
ville. His intentions seem to have been good.' 

But Jackson was hardly expected to see this. AH his hopes 
appeared to be destroyed, and dark suggestions of plotting came 
into his mind. He restrained himself enough to write temper- 
ately a letter to the President in which he said that he con- 
sidered as a mistake that part of the order which directed him 
to give up his tents and other equipment and announced that he 
would disregard it.' He pushed forward his arrangements to 
take the whole column back to Tennessee. 

^Armstrong to Jackson, February 6, 1813, Jackson Mss. 
^Armstrong to Jackson, March 22, and April 10, 1813, Jackson, Mss. 
Vackson to Madison, March 15, 1813, Jackson Mss. 


But beneath the surface his anger was boiling. To Governor 
Blount he wrote as he felt. Armstrong's order, he said, was but 
a scheme to have the mOitia stranded far from home in the hope 
that Wilkinson's enlisting officers, who were already hovering 
around the camp, might draw them into the regular service,' 
To his ofi&cers he expressed himself with equal freedom and swore 
that not one of his men should be left at Natchez who wanted 
to go home. To the volunteers he sent a fiery proclamation 
denoimcing the whole situation. It was a question, he said, if 
they had been treated justly by the government and by their own 
congressmen, but they might rely on it, not one of them, sick 
or weU, should be left behind when the column marched.' These 
sentiments were cordially endorsed by the men: they were cal- 
culated to secure careful consideration from the state's represen- 
tatives in Washington. They show that he knew the art of 
appealing to the people long before he was associated with the so- 
called "Kitchen Cabinet." 

Having decided to return, Jackson lost no time to put his 
army in motion. He drew twenty days' rations from the com- 
missary department at Natchez and urged Blount to forward 
other suppHes to the Tennessee River and thus relieve him from 
the necessity of taking them from the inhabitants "vie et armis." 
But the deputy-quartermaster, who was under Wilkinson's 
authority, did not feel authorized to pay the cost of transporting 
the sick, and it was necessary for Jackson to pledge his own 
credit to meet this expense.' He did it cheerfully, and the 
government as willingly relieved him of the responsibiUty when 
the matter came to its attention." It was on this return march 

ijackson to Blount, March 15, 1813, Jackson Mss. He retained this notion even after ample ezplanation 
came from the secretary. Jackson to Governor Hohnes, April 24, 1813, Jacks m Mss. 

'Jackson Mss., March, 1813. 

'Jackson to Blount, March is, 1813, Jackson Mss. 

'Jackson to R. Andrews, July 12, 1813, Jackson Mss. See also W. B. Lewis to Coffee, April 9, 1813, Jack- 
son Mss., by which it appears that some of Jackson's friends pledged money to aid in assuming the respon- 

'Jackson to Governor Holmes of Mississippi Territory, April 24, 1S13, Jackson Mss. 


that the soldiers gave him the nickname, "Old Hickory," in 
admiration for his tenacity and endurance. 

Soon after his arrival in Nashville he learned that the Natchez 
quartermaster refused to pay the wagoners who helped to carry 
the sick to the Tennessee River." This caused further irritation, but 
a reference of the matter to Washington removed the difficulties. 

Jackson's attitude in this affair was made to do good service 
ia the political campaigns in which he was later concerned. 
His friends asserted that he assumed the responsibility for all 
the expenses of the homeward journey; and the imagination 
of Benton served to put it in such permanent form that it has 
secured a strong position in the published histories of the expedi- 
tion. The truth, as shown in the correspondence, is that the 
general's assumption of responsibility extended no further than 
to hire thirteen wagons and twenty-six pack-horses to carry the 
sick, and that he became personally responsible for the forage 
which the horses consumed. Benton also gives an entertaining 
accoimt of how he finally persuaded the war department to aUow 
these accounts, but from his own letter to Jackson this part 
of the narrative assumes the following form: 

It happened that Colonel Benton returned from Natchez 
with decided ambitions of a militar>' nature. It also happened 
that he knew that the government expected to raise a new regi- 
ment of regular troops in Tennessee. He thought this an oppor- 
tunity to gratify his ambition and went to Washington to apply 
for a colonel's commission. Jackson readily gave him letters 
of recommendation to the secretary of war' and made him his 
messenger in regard to the pay of the wagoners. June 15, Ben- 
ton was able to report success in regard to the claims. The 
secretary, he said, first inquired if the claims were approved by 
the deputy-quartermaster-general at New Orleans and was 

'Jackson to the Secretary of War, May lo, 1813, Jackson Mss. 
■' Ibid. 


told that this officer had no authority in regard to them. It was 
decided to approve them in the accountant's office in Washing- 
ton. Benton went away, but reahzmg how much delay this 
would occasion he wrote and urged that an agent be allowed to 
audit the claims in Tennessee. After some delay this request 
was granted in an order dated June 14, which left nothing to be 
desired by Jackson. Benton in his later account asserted that 
he had to threaten the administration with a loss of Tennessee 
votes in order to get this tardy justice, but there is really nothing 
in his report to show that the war department was not inclined 
to pay the claims or that the hesitation was anything more than 
a mere matter of detail as to the manner of settlement. 

Benton's report in regard to his own affairs is interesting. 
But one regiment, he said, would be raised ia Tennessee, and for 
that John Williams, of whom we shall hear more later, was to be 
colonel and he, Benton, lieutenant-colonel. He himself, he said, 
tried in vain to convince the secretary that two regiments ought 
to be formed in the state : this would, under existing regulations, 
mean a Tennessee brigade, with a brigadier-general and two 
colonels. The inference was plain, but he made it plainer still 
by adding that some congressmen had it in mind to propose 
Jackson for appointment the first time there should be a vacant 

Before the end of the year the new regiment, the thirty- 
ninth, was organized, and Williams and Benton received their 
commissions. They saw service in the South, but in September 
the lieutenant-colonel became the enemy of Jackson through 
the Benton affair. From that beginning grew a bitter personal 
enmity and the new regiment saw no conspicuous service in the 
exciting times just ahead. Williams and Benton are almost the 
only Tennesseeans of prominence who went through the war 
without achieving distinction. 

'Benton to Jackson, June is. 1813; Jackson to R. Andrews, July 12, 1813, Jackson Mss. 



The Natchez expedition was a success in all but actual fighting. 
It seasoned officers and privates by four months of campaign- 
ing and whetted their appetites for more serious service. When 
they volunteered it was for one year, and when they were dis- 
missed in March they went home subject to another call 
for duty. They were hardly there before disquieting 
information came from the South. The Creek Indians 
were giving unmistakable signs of hostihty. Jackson received 
his wound from Jesse Benton on September 4; and within 
two weeks he learned that his services were again needed in 
the field. 

A century ago the region south of the Tennessee River was 
popularly known as "the Creek Country." By the early in- 
habitants of that region its settlement was considered essential 
to the welfare of the Tennesseeans ; for the best water communi- 
cation from the Holston settlements to the outside world was 
through its borders. Down the Tennessee the traveler may go 
by boat to the vicinity of Himtsville, Alabama, from which by a 
portage of fifty miles he may gain the upper Coosa, which unites 
with the Tallapoosa in the very heart of the old Creek territory 
to form the Alabama, which in turn becomes the Mobile when it 
receives the waters of the Tombigbee near the Florida border. 
It seemed to the transmontane settlers that nature designed this 
line of communication for their special use. The idea was not 
less attractive because the Creek lands were exceedingly fertile. 
In 1813, therefore, both interest and feeUng prompted the Amer- 



icans to suppress the ancient annoyance they received from the 
Indians and to spoil them of their inheritance. 

The Creeks realized this situation. Their old ally was Spain 
with whom most Americans of the war party desired a conflict. 
Spain, however, wovild not fight, not even when Wilkinson in the 
spring of 1813 seized Mobile and held it as American territory 
under the ten-yea,r-old claim which his government asserted to 
it. To her, in fact, war would have been sheer madness. In 
Europe her resources were exhausted to the last extremity by 
the long struggle against Napoleon. In South and Central 
America her colonies were on the point of revolution. War with 
America in support of the Creeks meant the loss of Florida, 
to which she could not send a regiment without great sacrifice. 
It was her poHcy to be neutral. But the British were at war, 
and the Indians turned to them. Agents came with the offer 
of an alliance, and it was accepted. Arms and ammunition were 
promised and later some were sent. 

More notable was the influence of Tecumseh. This remarkable 
man appeared in October, 181 1, at a Creek council held at the 
ancient town of Tuckaubatchee, on the upper Tallapoosa, and 
made one of his effective pleas for a union of aU the red men of 
the West against the extension of the settlements. Standing 
like a statue in the midst of a silent group of warriors he held 
aloft his war club in one hand and slowly loosened finger after 
finger tUI at last it fell to the ground. This savage pantomine 
to express the results of disunion made a deep impression on the 
young braves. When Tecumseh was gone, hostihties did not 
immediately begin, but there sprang up in his wake a number of 
prophets who kept his ideas alive and who by magic and the 
promises of supernatural assistance fired the Creek heart to a 
great struggle of national self-preservation. Benjamin Hawkins, 
since 1797 Creek agent and hitherto much loved by the Indians, 
found that his influence with the younger warriors was gone, and 


the best he could do for his government was to build up a small 
party of more conservative chiefs who tried to restrain the others 
from war. 

The information that hostilities with England were actually 
begun created great excitement in the Indian towns, and a party 
of warriors set out for the North where they took part in the 
attack on the Americans at the river Raisin, January 22, 1813. 
Returning from that engagement, the blood thirst still hot m 
them, they murdered two white families on the banks of the 
Ohio. For this outrage the Americans demanded reparation; 
and the old men, anxious to preserve peace, sent runners 
through the forests to kill the violators of the law. This 
was the Indian custom of executing persons adjudged to 
die. In this case the murderers were all slain, but the 
war party were only further excited and not awed into 
subnnission. Within a short while two thousand warriors 
from twenty-nine of the thirty-four towns of the Upper Creeks 
took up arms. 

The center of the Creek country was the junction of the Coosa 
and Tallapoosa Rivers near which was the "Hickory Ground," 
a sacred meeting place of the tribes, thought to be so well pro- 
tected by their gods that no white man could tread it and live. 
Near this, chiefly on the Tallapoosa, were the towns of the Upper 
Creeks, while farther south was the group of villages known as 
Lower Creeks. In all they embraced about seven thousand 
warriors, of whom the hostile party by midsummer, 1813, was 
about four thousand. Not more than a third of these, it was 
said, had guns; and ammunition was very scarce. All their 
supplies must be obtained at this time from Florida, where the 
Spanish officials refused to sell more than enough for hunting. 
To this item of weakness add the fact that there were always 
some friendly Creeks who actually helped the Americans against 
their brethren, and we may see that the savages were poorly 



prepared to contend with the soldiers whose vengeance they were 
rashly inviting. 

The probabiUty of a Creek war was understood in Washington 
and plans were made for opposing it. It was proposed to send 
three columns into the disaffected region; one from Georgia 
containing fifteen hundred militia, another from Tennessee of 
like strength and another — the 3d regiment of regulars — 
from the southward up the Alabama River. The whole 
to be under the supervision of Major-General Thomas 
Pinckney, commander of the district. The success of this 
plan would depend on exact and active cooperation between 
the three columns, and in a region as trying as the Creek country 
this was very difficult. It gave the Indians, if they were alert, 
the opportunity to attack their foes in detail; and it was likely 
to leave the severest fighting to one of the three attacking forces. 
Such, indeed, proved to be the result when the plan was put into 
execution: the heaviest fighting fell on Jackson with his Ten-, 
nesseeans. The secretary's plan was submitted to the governor 
of Tennessee for his opinion on July 13, 1813.' 

Before a move could be made the Indians began the war by 
a bloody stroke. The inhabitants of the more exposed section of 
the frontier were fleeing to block-houses for protection. A large 
number took refuge in a fortified stockade of Samuel Mims on 
Lake Tensaw, and the authorities sent Major Beasley with one 
hundred and seventy-five mihtia to protect them. In August 
the place, popularly called Fort Mims, held five himdred and 
fifty-three persons of all conditions. Beasley was singixlarly 
inefl&cient and in spite of warnings left the gates imguarded. 
On the thirtieth, when the signal was given for the noonday din- 
ner, one thousand Creeks rushed from the coverts, gained the 
unfastened gates, and proceeded to destroy the inmates at their 
pleasure. Most of the Negroes were spared for slaves, twelve of 

'Armstrong to Blount, July 13, 1813, Jackson Mss. 


the whites cut their way to Uberty, but the rest, two hundred and 
fifty in number, were slain. It was a crushing stroke, and from 
one end of the border to the other rose a cry for vengeance. 

Nowhere did the tidings from Fort Mims arouse more horror 
than in West Tennessee, where the inhabitants daily expected 
an attack. In fact, it was only through the failure of the Brit- 
ish to furnish the Creeks with expected supplies that such a 
calamity was avoided.' To meet this danger the community 
assumed the offensive without waiting for the authority of the 
government, and all eyes turned to Jackson. September i8, 
there was a meeting of leading citizens in NashviUe to consider 
measures of defense. They decided that a strong force ought to 
be sent at once into the heart of the Creek territory to destroy 
their vUlages and force them to make peace. They asked the 
legislature to authorize such a move, and at their request the 
governor agreed to call out for immediate service the recently 
dismissed Natchez volimteers. The assembly was as complai- 
sant as the governor, and a week later caUed also for three thou- 
sand five himdred detached mihtia for a three months' tour of 
duty. It was a hearty response to a pubHc necessity and marks 
a high state of patriotism in Tennessee. If every state in the 
union had displayed the same kind of war spirit, the story of 
the national struggle would have been different. 

A committee from the meeting on September i8, waited on 
Jackson to know if he would be able to take the field at the head 
of the volimteers. They found him in bed from the wound he 
received on the fourth of the month in the affair with Benton; 
but he expressed the greatest confidence in his ability to lead his 
division. He did, in fact, at once assume direction of the move- 
ment for defense, calling the volunteers to assemble at Fayette- 
viUe, Tennessee, on October 4, arranging for suppUes of food and 
ammunition, and writing many letters on all kinds of similar sub- 

'Governor Blount to Jackson, Oct. i8, 1813. Jackson Mss. 


jects. In one of the letters he said: "The late fracture of my left 
arm will render me for a while less active than formerly. Still 
I march and before we return, if the general government will 
only hands off — we wiU give peace in Israel." ' Jackson's peace 
was likely to be a grim one. 

Before he could assemble his forces news came that Madison 
County, in Mississippi Territory, was threatened by the savages. 
This county embraced a large part of the northern region of the 
present states of Mississippi and Alabama, and Himtsville, ia 
the latter state, was its most populous center. It was the natural 
approach to the theatre of his coming exploits. To relieve its 
danger Jackson sent Coffee forward with three hundred cavalry 
and mounted riflemen, and hastened the preparations of the 
main body. On October 4th, his wound was not healed enough 
for him to take up the march, nor were aU the arrangements com- 
pleted. On the seventh, however, he rode into camp weak and 
haggard and took personal direction of the army. Immediately 
came urgent calls from Coffee, who reported that he was about 
to be attacked. On the tenth, at nine in the morning, camp was 
broken and at eight in the evening the troops were near Hunts- 
viUe, having marched thirty-two miles. The general intended to 
take them into town before stopping, but he learned that Coffee's 
perils were exaggerated and went into camp where he was. For 
a commander with a lame shoulder this was a good day's journey. 
On the next day he reached the Tennessee at Ditto's Landing, 
a few miles south of HuntsviUe, and crossing the river united 
his forces with Coffee's. Here he halted for a few days, seeking 
a favorable place for a fortified depot of suppUes. On October 
22d, he moved up the river from Ditto's in a southeasterly direc- 
tion for twenty-four miles and laid out at the mouth of Thomp- 
son's Creek the fortification which he called Fort Deposit. It 

'Jackson to Governor Holmes CMiss.). Septemher s6. tSiv Jackson Mss. 


was his base of supplies and looked frowningly upon the wil- 
derness into whose fateful mysteries he longed to plunge. 

The Tennessee forces were now organized in two bodies, fol- 
lowing the two militia divisions, each containing about two thou- 
sand five hundred men. One of them was from the east 
and was commanded by Major-General John Cocke, regular 
commander of the second division of militia. The other was 
from the west and was commanded by Jackson. It included 
the United States volunteers to the number of two thousand 
and a supplementary body of militia numbering nearly a thou- 
sand. Both divisions were under the command of the governor, 
but otherwise acted separately. Cocke was ordered south- 
ward from Knoxville by way of Chattanooga into what is now 
northwestern Georgia and northeastern Alabama, with instruc- 
tions to cooperate with the Georgia militia and with the regulars 
who were moving on the hostile Indians, and to protect the 
friendly Creek towns in this region.' 

The orders to Jackson were to "act in conjunction with the 
forces reUed on for the expedition or separately as your knowledge 
of the circumstances may teach the propriety of, first making 
the necessary arrangements for concert with Major-General 
Cocke and Colonel Meigs.'" If the two divisions should unite, 
Jackson as senior ofiicer would have the command. His letters 
show that he expected a junction, but nothing in the instructions 
contemplated it. 

Jackson's plan of campaign provided for a base of supplies 
on the Tennessee at its southernmost part, a miUtary road thence 
for fifty miles to the Ten Islands on the Coosa, where another 
fortified post would be established for supplies, and thence down 
the Alabama River system to Fort St. Stephens, always 

'Blount to Cocke, September 25. '813, Jackson Mss. 
. 'Blount to Jackson, October 4, 1813, and November 17, 1813, Jackson Mss. Meigs was a£cnt amonj the 


destroying such armed bands as opposed him and devastating 
villages as he went. By this plan he would estabUsh a permanent 
line of communication from East Tennessee to Mobile. It had 
the advantage, also, of being adjusted to the general plan which 
was suggested to Blount by the secretary of war, and which 
its author must have seen before he left Nashville. On the other 
hand, it was in itself a complete military movement and if made 
in force would succeed without reference to the success or failure 
of the cooperating colmnns. He did not rely greatly on aid from 
the Georgia militia or from the regulars by way of Mobile. He 
believed that by uniting with Cocke's division at the friendly 
village of Turkey Town on the upper Coosa he could make a 
quick dash southward, wreaking vengeance as he went, until he 
dictated peace before the end of the year on the Hickory Ground.' 

This project would necessarily make heavy demands on the 
newly organized and imperfect commissary department of the 
army. Provisions were abundant in East Tennessee, and to 
carry them down the Tennessee River in ordinary times was not 
a great task. But to gather and convey them in the autumn, 
when the river was very low, and to convey them from Fort 
Deposit across the wilderness road, and down the Coosa in the 
wake of the impetuous general was not an easy task. It de- 
manded a well organized, well equipped, and well experienced 
commissary; and such a department Jackson did not have. 

The first intimation he had of trouble of this kind came at 
Ditto's Landing when he announced to the contractors that 
he would soon need rations on the Coosa. To his astonishment 
the reply was that such a thing was impossible. Jackson 
stormed, as was his custom, and ended by removing his contrac- 
tors and employing others. These gave fair promises but did 
Uttle more than the first. The contractor system of supplying 
provisions was bad in itself, and caused disappointment in the 

■Jackson to Governor Early (Georgia), October lo, 1813, Jackson Mss. 


army till it was abandoned. Nor is Jackson to be entirely re- 
lieved from responsibility for the trouble. He was, undoubtedly, 
more eager than cautious. A calmer man would have hesitated 
to lead an active winter campaign into the Alabama mountains 
until assured of an abundance of provisions. 

While these difficulties engaged his attention the road to 
the Coosa was being opened as rapidly as possible. Within a 
week it was ready for use, and leading his army over its stumps 
and rude bridges he came, about November ist, to the Coosa at 
the Ten Islands, where he erected another fortified base and 
called it Fort Strother. If it was difficult to place supphes at 
Fort Deposit, it was far more difficult to place them at this new 
base. The whole reliance was on contractors, who were expected 
to have rations deposited for 3,000 men forty days ahead. This 
meant the accumulation by them of a large number of wagons 
and teams, an operation for which they showed little energy. 
It was not till Jackson took this part of the work into his own 
hands, impressing wagons and horses in Madison Coimty, that 
it was possible to bring up his supplies with any degree of regu- 

The army was now organized in three brigades. The first 
was commanded by Brigadier-General William Hall and was 
composed of two regiments of volunteer infantry under Colonels 
Bradley and Pillow. The second was commanded by Brigadier- 
General Isaac Roberts and was composed of two regiments of 
mihtiamen under Colonels Wynne and McCrary. The third was 
commanded by Brigadier-General John Coffee and was composed 
of a regiment of volimteer cavalry under Colonel Alcorn and a 
regiment of mounted riflemen under Colonel Newton and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Allen. The first brigade numbered 1,400, 
the second was probably something more than six hundred, and 
the third contained 1,000 men.' 

>GcnaBl Orders, October lo and 30, 1813, Jackson Mss. 


At Fort Strother Jackson came for the first time within strik- 
ing distance of the foe. Thirteen miles to the eastward was 
the hostile village of Tallushatchee with nearly two hundred 
warriors, and Coffee was sent to destroy it. On the morning 
of November 3d, his men, 1,000 strong, were in line around 
the village, the inhabitants of which by shouts and other ex- 
pressions of defiance raised such a commotion that he believed 
them equal in number to his own troops. By a feint he drew 
them out of their position, which was strong, surrounded them 
with all his forces, and steadily cut them to pieces. Not a 
warrior escaped, and in the confusion some of the women were 
slain with the men. The Indians did not ask for quarter and 
the whites did not offer it; for this was a war in which prisoners 
were rarely taken. Coffee reported that he slew 168 and a 
few more whose bodies were not found: eighty-four Indian 
women and children were taken captive. The loss of the whites 
was five killed and forty-one wounded. This first blow gave cour- 
age to the rest of the army at Fort Strother, and strengthened 
the confidence of the friendly Indians. In the enthusiasm of the 
moment it was forgotten that it was won with an immense dis- 
parity of numbers and equipment. Coffee reported that his 
opponents first fired with guns and then fought with bows and 

No sooner was the cavalry back at Fort Strother than news 
came which put the whole army into motion. Thirty miles to 
the south was the friendly village of Talladega with a population 
of 154 persons. It was now ascertained that for some days it 
had been surroimded by more than a thousand hostiles, whose 
investment was so close that it was extremely difficult to get 
messengers through to Jackson. But after several days of 
siege a chieftain disguised in the skin of a hog escaped the vigi- 
lance of the besiegers and reached Fort Strother on the seventh. 

•Coffee's report is in Parton, Jackson. I., 436 Jackson's report says one warrior escaped. 


He reported the extremity of the Talladegas and declared that 
help to be effective must be speedy. 

Before dawn of the following day Jackson was on the march 
with 1,200 infantry and 800 cavalry. He left his wounded at 
the fort with a small guard; and for their better protection 
he urged Brigadier-General White, who, leading Cocke's advance, 
had approached to the neighborhood, to protect the fort. It 
was like Jackson to take all his available force on this expedition, 
although in doing so he had double the number of the enemy. 
He was never a man to risk a battle without having all the odds 
possible on his own side. 

At sunrise on the ninth he was before Talladega, and the 
Indians came out to give him battle. He arranged his troops 
in a crescent with the points thrown forward. On the flanks 
he placed his cavalry, with orders to fall on the rear of the enemy 
as soon as the engagement became general. A mounted reserve 
was behind the main line. In opening the battle he employed 
the feint which Coffee used so effectively at Tallushatchee. He 
sent forward some companies who fired four or five rounds and 
fell back to the main line while the enemy eagerly rushed for- 
ward. Immediately the circle of Americans was formed as 
planned by their leader. The Creeks, hotly engaged on their 
front, were soon discouraged and turned to fly. To their con- 
fusion they found themselves surrounded. Turning hither and 
thither for an avenue of safety they encountered a circle of re- 
lentless marksmen whose rifles claimed victims at every moment. 
They were in a fair way to be exterminated when an accident 
offered a door of escape to a large part of them. Early in the 
battle a portion of the infantry retreated from the front of the 
enemy. It was now necessary to dismount the reserves and 
throw them into the breach, and that body was no longer avail- 
able for an emergency. When, therefore, the hunted fugitives 
found a slight gap between the cavalry and the infantry and 


began to pour through it, there was no force which could be 
quickly sent to- check them. Thus it happened that nearly 
seven hundred sHpped out of Jackson's fingers to oppose him 
another day. Could he have made an end of them here the 
battle of Tohopeka might have been avoided. As it was, more 
than three hundred Indians were slain, while the loss of the 
Tennesseeans was only fifteen kiUed and eighty-five wounded.' 

At Talladega Jackson was only eighty miles from the Hickory 
Ground, where he hoped to end the war. The engagements of 
the third and ninth left the foe badly shattered, and less than 
another month of active campaigning must have completed 
their discomfiture. Brilliant as that prospect was, it was nec- 
essary to reUnquish it and return to Fort Strother. The ar- 
rival of provisions was almost at a standstill, and it was becoming 
a question, not of further advance, but of holding the position 
on the Coosa. Furthermore, news came that White's brigade 
was recalled by Cocke and the fort with its wounded was left 
undefended. Jackson's retrograde movement at this particular 
time had a bad effect on both friendly and hostile Indians. 
Suffering from his wound, ill from other disease, with the whole 
burden of the expedition on his shoulders, he was very angry 
with the persons responsible for his embarrassments. He railed 
at his quartermasters, began a long quarrel with Cocke, and 
wrote scores of appeals for aid from every promising quarter- 
The rest of the year was one of mihtary inactivity, beset by star- 
vation and mutiny. Some of his best friends thought he ought 
to recognize the inevitable and fall back to the frontier till sup- 
phes could be accumulated; but he would not hear them. He 
said he would maintain his advance if he had to hve on acorns.' 

During this period of distress two mutinies occurred in his 

•Jackson's report is in Parton, Jackim, I., 449; Coffee's is In Ihii I, 44S. 

"Jackson to Lewis, October 34, 1813. JacJcson Mss. The story that Jackson was once seen dining on tcoaa 
is probsblsr apocryphal. 


camp, the first from the lack of supplies and the second 
from a conflict of opinion in interpreting the laws under which 
volunteers and militia were serving. In each case agita- 
tors were present who fanned the flame. In the accounts 
of these two mutinies, historians have usually depended upon 
Reid and Eaton,' all of whose information was on Jackson's side. 
He himself has preserved enough of the petitions and letters 
of the discontented ones to show that the affair had another 

The first protest came from the United States volunteers. 
On the return from Talladega they petitioned to be led back to 
the frontier until supplies could be collected. The request was 
not granted, and November 14th, their field ofl&cers and captains 
held a meeting at which they renewed the request and gave 
the following reasons: (i) Because supplies were wanting. Not 
more than ten rations had been issued since the army left Fort 
Deposit more than two weeks earUer, and "both ofl&cers and 
soldiers have been compelled to subsist for five days on less 
than two rations." (2) The frontier was now safe and the con- 
tractors continued to deceive the soldiers in regard to supplies. 
(3) The order for their assembling was issued onty five days be- 
fore they left their homes, giving them no time to provide winter 
clothing, so that they now needed clothes and shoes badly. 
This address was loyal and respectful and had the air of truth- 
fulness. It shows that the army was in a wretched condition; 
and any man less inflexible than Jackson would have made some 
concession to its demands.' 

The petition of the volunteer ofl&cers was reinforced by similar 
requests from other bodies of troops, but to all Jackson was 
unyielding. Then the mUitia mutinied and broke ranks to go 

>Re>d and Eaton, Jackson, 63. 

The address in manuscript is among the Jackson Mss. it is not dated, but the address of the officers oi 
the second regiment on November 15, shows that the omitted date should be the fourteenth. See also 
Uu second regiment ts Jackson, November 13, and Jackson to Blount, November 14, 1813, Jackson Mai. 


home. He threw the volunteers across their path, and the 
militia, who were probably not deeply in the affair, returned to 
their places. Next the volunteers themselves announced that 
they would stay no longer, and were marching away when they 
were confronted by the now loyal miUtia and forced back to 
duty. The quickness with which each yielded indicates that 
neither was actuated by bad motives and that they feared to 
commit an action which would stamp them as disloyal citizens 
throughout Tennessee. 

At last Jackson learned that provisions had arrived in sufi&cient 
quantities at Fort Deposit. Believing they would reach him 
inamediately he issued a general order announcing the good 
news and saying that if they did not arrive in two days he would 
consent to faU back. Two days passed and no provisions 
came. Then, deeply disappointed and distressed, he kept his 
promise. He gave the order to march but declared that he 
would continue to hold Fort Strother if only two men would 
stay with him. At this a call for a volunteer garrison was 
circulated, and 109 men offered to remain, but the rest of the 
army marched joyfully toward the Tennessee. 

Before they proceeded more than twelve miles they met a 
drove of cattle on the way to Fort Strother. It was the supply 
which was expected on the previous day. Orders were given 
to kill and feast. After a full meal the command was given to 
return to the fort. It was received with murmurings, and when 
the men were ordered to march, one company, in spite of its 
ofl&cers, started homeward. Jackson was now enraged. With 
a few followers from his staff he threw himself in front of the 
mutineers and by threatening to fire drove them back to the 
main body, which with much scowUng and muttering refused 
to resume the march. Going alone among the men he found 
them on the point of marching homeward in a mass. It was a 
moment of crisis, and if authority were not now enforced, the 


whole campaign would be lost. The towering strength of his 
will enabled him to make it a turning point in his military career. 
His left arm was still disabled, but he seized a musket in his 
right hand and using the neck of his horse for a rest stood de- 
fiantly before the whole body of troops, his eyes flashing and 
his shriU voice shouting with many oaths that he would kill 
the first man who stepped forward. For a few moments he 
stood alone; then he was joined by Reid and Coffee, each with 
a musket; and then some loyal companies formed across the 
road in their rear. Seeing this the mutineers gradually relin- 
quished their defiance and sullenly moved away on the road 
to Fort Strother. From this time provisions were ample and 
the first phase of the mutiny was over. 

But the spirit of discontent was not destroyed and it appeared 
in another form. The United States volunteers were mustered 
into service on December lo, 1812, under a law of congress 
(February 6, 1812), which provided that they should be "bound 
to continue in service for the term of twelve months after they 
should have arrived at the place of rendezvous, unless sooner 
discharged." ' It also provided that each infantryman when 
discharged should receive as a gift the musket with which he 
had fought and each cavalryman his sword and pistols. When 
they were dismissed in the following spring the volunteers 
were anxious for these gifts and Jackson, in order that they 
might be allowed to keep them, issued formal discharges; 
but they agreed that they would hold themselves bound to come 
into the field again when summoned. It is a high tribute to the 
personal qualities of the men that their general would trust them 
under such circumstances and that in October, 1813, they did 
almost to a man redeem their promises.' These discharges 

tVniled Stales SlaUia ai Largt., U, 676. 

'Jackson to Colonel William Martin, December 4, 1813, Jackson Mss. Jackson said that the secietaiy 
of war declared that he, Jackson, had no authority to discharge the troops, but this hardly agreed with Arm- 
strong's orders of February 6 and March 22, 18x3. 


played an important part in the discussion now about to 

As December loth approached, the discontented volunteers 
began to speak of it as the day on which their term of service 
expired. Jackson, alarmed at the prospect of losing four-fifths of 
his army, repUed that the twelve months they were required to 
serve did not include the time they were at home the preceding 
summer. The volunteers thought the law declared for a twelve 
months' tour of duty and that an interruption during which 
they were at the call of the government was not to be counted 
against them. They further asserted that they would go home 
on the loth, whether Jackson gave his permission or not, and 
that inasmuch as they already had their discharges such an 
action could not be held illegal. It was a strong point in their 
favor, and had Jackson been as logically minded as patriotic 
he would have thought himself stopped from denjdng the tech- 
nical value of his own discharge. But he was not logical, and 
he repHed, in effect, that it was not really a discharge but a 
dismissal which he gave them the preceding spring, and only the 
President could order a discharge. He seems to have had no 
compunction in thus admitting that in his former action he 
practised a subterfuge on the government in order to enable 
his men to get their arms without legal warrant. It was natural 
that the volunteers should not accept Jackson's repudiation 
of his discharges, and each side remained unconvinced. 

After discussing the matter for some time, Jackson referred 
the whole affair to Governor Blount and the secretary of war, 
promising to abide by their decision. Such an arrangement, 
if accepted by the soldiers, would give him at least two months 
of additional service, and m the meantime he hoped by the 
strenuous efforts he was making to raise additional volunteers 
to repair the loss.' Blount, as might have been ejqjected, 

■Jackson to Colond WUliam Martin. December 4. 1813, Jackson Mss. 


refused to settle a dispute in which he was sure to displease 
either the commander or the men, and it was referred to Wash- 
ington.' All this did nothing to quell the spirit of mutiny in 
the camp of the volimteers. 

On December 9th, the affair came to a crisis. The first 
brigade of the volunteers announced they would march in the 
night, and prepared to carry out the threat. Jackson acted 
with promptness. He ordered the brigade to parade on the west 
side of the fort, placed his two pieces of artillery in position to 
rake them, and on an adjacent eminence drew up the militia, 
who were not concerned in this mutiny. He then made a 
speech to the brigade: He had argued with them, he said, 
until he was tired; if they were going to desert let them do it 
now; otherwise let them return to camp quietly and cease to 
complain: would they obey or not? He waited for an answer. 
They remained a moment in sUence and he ordered the gunners 
to Ught their matches. Then he spoke again telling them to 
go to their places or abide by the results. It is hardly to be 
doubted that he was prepared to fire if they remained imim- 
pressed; but at this moment there was a hurried conference 
among the ofl&cers, not all of whom were disaffected. In a few 
minutes they approached the general to say that the men would 
resume their places in the camp. 

The volunteers, however, were not convinced. They de- 
clared they would not go home until honorably discharged, 
but they demanded a release so persistently that even the gover* 
nor and other friends of the general advised him to send them 
home,' since they were useless as soldiers. This advice at 
length prevailed, and December 14th, the first brigade, including 
aU the infantry among the United States volunteers, was ordered 

•Blount to Jackson, November 34, December 7, 15, and 16, 1S13; Blount to secretary of war, December 
10, 1813; Jackson to Blount, December 3, 12, and 36, 1813, all in Jackson MS9. 
'William Carroll to Jackson, November 33, 1813,. Jackson Mss. 


under its brigadier-general to march to Nashville and be dis- 
banded pending the decision of the President/ 

"March lo, 18x4, in the Carthage Gazette Brigadier-General Hall and several of his higher officers published 
a defence of the first brigade, written in a commendable spirit. 

An interesting pasquinade appears among the Jackson Mss. It describes the departure of the volunteers 
and runs as follows: 


This veteran corps paraded on the night of the gth Inst., by command and were reviewed in a manner no 
ways pleasing to them; they were brought to a sense of their duty by the force of eloquence; and returned 
to their quarters very quietly which presaged future amendment. On the morning of the loth Lieutenant 
Sheephead made his appearance (a little after reveille) to complain that his superiors had ' made merry ' and 
'wondered that men under such circumstances would sing and rejoice at detaining an army 'against their 
wills.' Colonel Conciencious commenced scribbling and wished to convince others of what he believed or 
affected to beUevc, i. e., ' that soldiers ought not to be detained in service when they thought their time out. 
Major Out-Flank-Us 'was of opinion the muster rolls ought to govern, they were dated muster in on the loth 
Deer., 1812, and muster out loth Deer., 1813 and was of opinion that the muster rolls superseded the laws, 
which says they shall serve 12 mos in 2 yeais.* Colonel Konshers opinion 'as how I think, the mens time 
is up and by God dey most have some meet wen wee meat de waggons you most think wee is beasts and 
can liv on gras, but by G — d wee is men an hav som feelings.* 

This renowned Colonel was concious himself and brave men could not like Nebuchadnezzer in days of yore 
live on grass. 

Major Up-the loth-Decr 'had told his men their time would expire on the loth-Decr and by making this 
and such arrangements he had prevailed on his men to turn out and felt himself bound to see them justice 
done.' Captain Sniveling (this veteran appears as if he had been in the revolution, for he carries Breads- 
mount upon his back) 'couldn't do anything with his men they can speak for themselves.* 

X Bulletin 14th December, 1813 
This day the whole corps of home-hound Pat-ry-ots obtained a special permit to return to de settlements 
they marched off amidst the hootings of the militia. Our avocations and inclinations not permitting us to 
accompany them, wee know not how they will proceed nor can we give a detailed account of all the marvellous 
actions and hairbreadth escapes they may have and make on their march to *de settlements.* We hear they 
march in as good order as could be expected and that part who were in command on the morning of the loth 
settled some old grudges in the gentlemanly stile oj pugilists, vulgarly called Jisty cufs. We wish them a safe 
march to 'de settlements.' We wish the Ladies of that part of Nashville, by the envious called Scuffle town 
to greet their arrival with loud huzzas of long live the Pat-ry-ots and 
'Sound the trumpets, beat the drums, 

Lol the conquering heroes come!' 
An as Colonel Konsher is a man of modesty and extreme gentleness 0} manners we would wish the above named 
Ladies to sing or bawl 

'He that wants but impudence 

To all things has a fair pretence 

And place among his wants but shame 

To all the world may lay his claim.' 

We have been faithful recorders, we nothing have ertenuated or ought set down in malice. 

Kyclijah Town 

Dec. IS, 1813. Auto-aboy 


From this document it appears that there was some kind of meeting on the morning of the tenth, a fact 
which one does not get from Reid's account (Reid and Eaton, Jackson, 83-92). It also seems to indicate 
that when the troops dispersed on the night of the ninth it was because they meant to consider their cause 
further, and not because they were willing to submit to authority. 


At Washington the affair seemed less serious than at Fort 
Strother, and the secretary of war readily ordered the volun- 
teers to be honorably discharged.' 

The departure of the first brigade left only the second brigade 
at Fort Strother. It was composed of militia infantry, while 
the first was composed of volunteer infantry. The third bri- 
gade, commanded by Coffee, was composed of volunteer cavalry 
and mounted riflemen, and November 14th, it was ordered to 
Madison County to refresh its jaded horses, and soon afterward 
in compliance with the request of the men it was allowed to go 
to Tennessee to secure winter clothing and other necessaries, 
first giving written pledges through its officers that the men 
would return when called. Jackson ordered them to return 
on December 8th, and at that time they were at Huntsville. 
But they were as much discontented as the volunteer infantry 
and petitioned Jackson for a discharge. When nine days later 
the first brigade arrived in Huntsville on their way home the 
cavalry and mounted riflemen became as deeply anxious as 
they to disband. Some of them seem to have broken away 
then; but on the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh the whole 
brigade crossed the Tennessee and marched away, save for a 
few faithful officers and men who were willing to remain. Coffee 
was just recovering from severe illness, but he mounted his 
horse and tried to stop their going. They paid Uttle attention 
to him, and seeing that aU their usefulness as soldiers was past 
he concluded it was as well to let them go.' On the twenty- 
ninth he reported that he had not enough men left to make a 

^Secretary of war to Blount, January 3, 1814, Jackion Mss. 

'Coffee to Jackson, December 23, 18x3, Jackson Mss. 

'Coffee's letters to Jackson are not very clear in regard to the details of the defection and departure of his 
men. They show much discontent before the arrival of the returning infantry. In his letter to Jackson of 
December 17, he seems to say that more than 500 of his men have gone: December 20, he says he has 850 
men, which was his full strength (see Coffee to Jackson, December 10, 1815): December 38, he tells how the 
whole brigade crossed the river and went off on December 36 and 27: and finally on December xg, he read to 


Jackson now had only the second brigade of his first army, 
composed of miUtia enlisted under resolution of the Tennessee 
legislature in the preceding September. They were commanded 
by Brigadier-General Roberts and numbered 1,000. They 
constituted Jackson's sole remaining fprce, except an East 
Tennessee regiment which was also disaffected. Under the state 
law a tour of duty was three months, and they volunteered to 
serve for that time. But after they were in the state's service 
they were received into the army of the United States under 
an act of congress which provided that the tour of duty under 
such conditions should be six months.' It is possible that the 
militia understood little of this change, although Jackson was 
careful to read to them the law under which they were re- 
ceived. The departure of the volunteers made them think of 
going home also. They began to assert that their term would 
be out on January 4, 1814, three months from their enhstment, 
and to threaten to go if they were restrained. The general thus 
found he was Ukely to be left sixty miles beyond the frontier 
with only a handful of troops to protect himself against a winter 
attack. The situation was all the more irritating because 
he had just completed other arrangements for an advance which 
promised to end the war. 

To their request for a discharge he returned a prompt refusal 
but at last referred the matter to the governor. Bloimt was 
probably getting tired of these disputes; he may have felt 
that Jackson ought not to throw the responsibility on him; 
and it is possible also that he had some thought of preserving 
his popularity. At any rate on December 7th, he gave his 

his troops Jackson's letter giving consent to their return, whereupon they left him almost to a man. The 
only plausible way of reconciling these statements is to suppose that the deserting troops did not really go 
home, but remained for some days in Huntsville, although they repudiated the authority of their commander. 
All the letters referred to here are from Coffee to Jackson and may be found in the Jackson Mas. under the 
dates cited. 
^United Stales Statutes at large, II., 7o5 


opinion in favor of a three-months term, but suggested that the 
matter be referred to the secretary of war. Jackson argued, 
the militia grumbled, and affairs grew steadily worse. Blount 
had more discretion, if less military ardor, than the general, 
and soon saw the uselessness of keeping the discontented militia 
at Fort Strother. December 2 2d, he advised Jackson to evac- 
uate the place, fall back to the Tennessee River, and await re- 
inforcements. Four days later he changed his position somewhat 
and suggested that the militia be sent home pending the decision 
of the secretary of war; and he added that this opinion ought 
to be submitted to the men. Jackson was disgusted, but he 
told the troops what the governor said and left them to decide 
whether they would leave him alone or stay and finish the 
campaign. It was the opportunity for which they waited, and 
they started on the 31st, pleased to leave a place thoroughly 
hateful to them.' They left him raging impotently in what 
was well-nigh an abandoned fort. He sent his impreca- 
tions after them, strongly wishing, as he said, that each one had 
"a smok-taU in his teeth, with a petticoat as a coat of mail 
to hand down to posteiity."' One regiment only remained with 
him and their term was to expire on January 14th. As this date 
was so near at hand he foresaw that he could do little with them 
imless he could persuade them to stay longer than their time. 
He asked them if they would consent to do as much, and when 
they refused he sent them off to Tennessee with orders to their 
officers to recruit new forces for six months' service. 

'Jackson's attitude at this time, is revealed in several letters to Blount, December 12 and 26, 1813: Jack- 
son to Coffee, December 13, 25, 29, and 31 (most likely to Coffee); Blount to Jackson, December 7, 23, 26 
1S13 and March 13 and 20, 1S14; Blount to secretary of war, December 10, 1813, and January 4, 1814. All 
in Jackson Mss. 

'Jackson to Coffee, December 31, ZS13, Jackson Mss. 



Whether we think Jackson prudent or imprudent in rushing 
unprepared into the Creek campaign, or reasonable or unreason- 
able in holding out against the demands of his troops, we must 
admire the heroic spirit with which he met the crisis he now 
faced. He refused to fall back to the frontier, although for 
one short interval he had no more than one hundred men. 

His first care was to bring back the courage of Governor 
Blount. Privately he described Blount's argvmients as "damd. 
milk and water observations, which is well calculated to arouse 
mutiny in the minds of the men, keep their good opinion of 
himself and throw responsibility on me." To the governor, 
himself, he sent what he descril^ed as "a gulger that will make 
him look and see his own situation."' This "gulger" was a 
long and urgent letter of which the following is a part: 

Had your wish that I should discharge a part of my force 
and retire with the residue into the settlements assiuned the 
form of a positive order, it might have furnished me some apology 
for pursuing such a course; but by no means a fuU justification. 
As you could have no power to give such an order, I could not 
be inculpable in obeying it. But a bare recommendation, 
foimded, as I am satisfied it must be, on the artful suggestions 
of those fire-side patriots who seek in a failure of the expedition 
an excuse for their own supineness, and upon the misrepre- 
sentations of the discontented from the army, who wish it to 
be beheved that the difficulties which overcame their patriotism 
are wholly insurmountable, would afford me but a feeble shield 

'Jickton to Cofiee, December ag, 1813, Jackson Mss. 



against the reproaches of my country or my conscience. Believe 
me, my respected friend, the remarks I make proceed from the 
purest personal regard. If you would preserve your reputation, 
or that of the state over which you preside, you must take a 
straightforward determined course; regardless of the applause 
or censure of the populace, and of the forebodings of that das- 
tardly and designing crew, who, at a time like this, may be ex- 
pected to clamour continually in your ears . . . 

You say that an order to bring the necessary quota of men 
into the field has been given, and that of course, your power 
ceases; and although you are made sensible that the order 
has been wholly neglected, you can take no measure of the 
omission. Widely different, indeed, is my opinion. I consider 
it your imperious duty when the men called for by your authority, 
foimded upon that of the government, are known not to be in 
the field to see that they be brought there; and to take imme- 
diate measures with the ofl&cer who, charged with the execution 
of your order, omits or neglects to do it. As the executive of 
the state, it is your duty to see that the full quota of troops be 
kept in the field, for the time they have been required. You 
are responsible to the government; your officers to you. Of 
what avail it to give an order if it never be executed and may 
be disobeyed with impunity? Is it by empty mandates that 
we can hope to conquer our enemies, and save our defenceless 
frontiers from butchery and devastation? Believe me, my 
valued friend, there are times when it is highly criminal to 
shrink from responsibility, or scruple about the exercise of 
our power.' 

These sentiments were characteristic of Jackson. They 
contain the patriotism, energy, readiness to take the initiative, 
esteem of the national authority above that of the state, and 
the willingness to lecture his official superior which continually 
reappear in his career. We find also the disposition to beat 
a public servant with the club of popular disapproval, which 

iRcid and Eaton, Jackson, no. This letter is given here without date, but it seems undoubtedly to have 
been the one which Jackson called a "gulger." 


in the Natchez proclamation was held over the Tennessee con- 
gressmen/ and which in later times was to be used against 
poUticians in all parts of the union. To use such a club is an 
old trick, but it is usually employed with finesse: Jackson's 
method was fierce, open, and relentless chastisement. 

Governor Blount was too sensible to sulk because Jackson 
railed and tried earnestly to raise a new army. Many of the 
officers of the disbanded troops were warmly attached to Jackson 
and went home to raise new companies. From Tennessee the 
response was encouraging. Best of all, General Pinckney 
placed the newly raised thirty-ninth regiment, John Williams, 
colonel, and Thomas H. Benton, lieutenant-colonel, at Jack- 
son's disposal. Thus it happened that by the 14th of March 
Fort Strother contained 5,000 troops, more than were needed for 
the work before them, and more than it was possible to support 
in the Creek coimtry. 

Physical suffering, as well as anxiety, marked this period 
of waiting. Privations, exhaustion, irritation, and the drain 
of a slowly heaUng wound produced serious effects on a system 
which was habitually on the verge of coUapse. But Jackson's 
extraordinary will sustained him, and he not only gave the 
impulse but supervised most of the details of reorganization. 
His correspondence was heavy. To Blount, Pinckney, and 
many others he wrote frequently. The condition of the fort and 
the roads, the activity of the contractors, the progress of enlist- 
ment, all passed under his eye. He was said to be the last to 
retire and the first to rise in the camp. "We have not slept 
three hours in four nights," he said. "Reid and myself are worn 

At such a time his strong nature justified itself. We may 
forgive many faults of passion, when we remember that they 

'See above, page 8s 

'See above, page 85. 

'JacksoD to Coffee, December 31, 1S13, Jackson Mss. 


were correlative functions of an iron will which on occasion 
could give direction to the history of his country. They now 
carried him through what was probably the supreme crisis 
in his career. There were other times when failure would have 
forestalled all that came after, but no other period of doubt 
was so long or so forlorn in appearance, and into which it was 
necessary to put so much energy and personal sacrifice in order 
to overcome it. 

In the campaign about to begin he was left largely to his 
own resources. It was he who would not give up Fort Strother, 
he who put to work the means of gathering remforcements, 
and he who gave purpose to troops and contractors. The 
direction of the movements was also chiefly his, for Pinckney 
in the Carolinas and Georgia recognized his abUity and gave 
him wide discretion. Nor was he benefited by either of the 
other expeditions which in the preceding summer had been 
ordered to move against the Creeks.' 

While he contended with difficulties at Fort Strother, General 
Floyd with a body of Georgia mUitia was marching on the 
villages on the lower Tallapoosa. At Autosee, sixty miles west 
of Coweta, he fought on November 29th, a fierce battle in which 
the Indians were driven from the field with a loss of two hundred 
warriors, but he himself was wounded and withdrew his force to 
the settlements. 

Throughout January and February Floyd made ineffectual 
efforts to resimie his advance. He had a good road to the 
Upper Creek towns and Pinckney expected him to carry suppUes 
to Jackson, but one thing after another interfered with his 
movement and Pinckney finally warned Jackson to expect no 
assistance from Floyd.' At the same time the expedition up 

iSee above, page 96. 

'Pinckney to Jackson, December 13, 1813, Februaiy j and jo, 1814, Jackson Mss. Also see Floyd to Pinck- 
ney, December 4, 1813, in Niles, Register, V., 983. 


the Alabama, entrusted to General Claiborne, proved a failure.' 
It was evident that the only hope for pacifying the Creeks 
was Jackson's colmnn: it was also evident that success under 
the circumstances would make a deep impression on the country. 

Soon after New Year's, 18 14, new troops began to arrive on 
the Coosa. By the middle of the month they were ready for 
a blow. Eighty miles south of the fort was the fortified en- 
campment of Tohopeka where hostile Indians were assembhng 
from many villages. With 900 mounted riflemen, 200 friendly 
Indians, and one of his six-pounders he marched against it on 
the seventeenth. Five days later, just before dawn, as he lay 
encamped on Emuckf au Creek three miles from the fortification, 
the enemy tried to surprise him. But he was ready for the attack 
and drove them off in a fierce countercharge. Later in the day 
it was renewed and again beaten off. Thereupon the savages 
retired into their encampment which he did not feel strong 
enough to storm. They lost 45 killed and wounded, while three 
of the whites were killed and several wounded. Jackson set out 
at once for Fort Strother followed closely by the foe. On the 
twenty-fourth, as he was crossing Enotachapco Creek, they fell 
on his rear so fiercely that for a moment the situation was critical. 
But Colonel Carroll raUied 25 men and with the aid of the six- 
pounder held off the enemy tiU the crossing was completed. This 
incident ended the pursuit, and on the twenty-ninth the detach- 
ment arrived at the fort, having lost in the two engagements 
24 killed and 71 wounded, while the Creeks lost considerably 
more than two hxmdred.' 

This was the only stroke Jackson gave the Creeks without 
routing them completely. It was undertaken with a small 
and dispirited force against an enemy strongly posted. If 
the savages had remained in their fortifications and awaited 

'Adams, History of the United States, VII., 243. 
■Reid and Eaton, Jackson, 13^-147' 


battle, he must have fought at disadvantage or returned without 
an attack, either of which would have been unfortunate. As it 
happened, he could report that he drove back two assaults and 
inflicted more damage than he sustained. "Unless I am greatly 
mistaken," he said, "it [the expedition] wiU be found to have 
hastened the termination of the Creek war more effectually 
than any measure I could have taken with the troops under my 
command.'" Its best results were to give the new troops a 
taste of war, to restore confidence in Tennessee, and to dash the 
rising confidence of the enemy. Pinckney gave it his endorse- 
ment: referring to Jackson in a letter to the secretary of war 
he said, "If government think it advisable to elevate to the 
rank of general other persons than those now in the army, I 
have heard of none whose miUtary operations so well entitle 
him to that distinction."' 

During the Creek war the Indians showed unusual knowledge 
of civilized warfare. The strength of their encampment near 
Emuckfau turned Jackson aside. They had some able leaders 
of mixed blood and understood the advantages of military 
subordination. After the affair at Enotachapco they gave up 
a policy of aggression and gathered their strength to meet an 
attack in the midst of their villages. They had selected the 
strongest available point on the Tallapoosa, famous in history 
as Tohopeka, or the Horse-Shoe, and believed it impregnable. 
While they awaited attack Jackson had leisure to complete the 
organization of his army. 

It was February 6th, when Colonel WiUiams arrived with the 
39th regiment of regulars, six hundred strong. Their coming gave 
comfort to Jackson who was beginning to discover signs of 
mutiny in the raw troops. The regulars gave a nucleus of 
permanent authority independent of the popiilar agitation 

^Parton, Jackson, I., 495. 
sparton, Jackson, I., 4g8. 


in the minds of the mihtia. The commander consequently 
stiffened his attitude and annoimced that he would not pardon 
the next man convicted of mutiny. He was determined to 
make an example of disobedience. John Woods, a youth, 
who was perhaps misled by others, was to fall into the breach 
thus opened. He was charged with disobedience and with 
threatening to shoot when ordered under arrest. He was only 
eighteen and the officer whom he defied was undoubtedly incon- 
siderate, but the court found him guilty and sentenced him 
to death. The case would ordinarily demand commutation 
into some milder punishment, but Jackson stood to his purpose 
and the boy was executed on. March 14th. Long afterward 
those who opposed the poHtical ambitions of General Jackson 
made the incident support their general charge that he was cruel 
and irresponsible. In their hands it was grossly exaggerated 
and aroused violent controversy.' But whatever we may say 
of the wisdom of the execution, its effect on discipline was salutary. 
The day Woods met his fate the second advance of the army 
began. Three thousand of the newly collected forces were led 
southward along the banks of the Coosa. Colonel WilUams 
and the regulars were ordered to guard the supplies which in 
flat boats were sent down the stream. Thirty miles southward 
a new fort was begun which Jackson, with no premonition of 
a later quarrel, called Fort Williams. It was within easy dis- 
tance of the Tallapoosa villages and marked the point at which 
the Coosa was to be abandoned for overland journeying. For 
a moment there was hesitation in the mind of the general on 
account of the difficulty of bringing up supplies. "AU I want," 
said he, "is suppUes for my army. Had I a sufficiency for four 
weeks now at this place my mind would be at ease, and the war, 
I think, pretty near its termination.'" But cheering news came 

^Parton, Jackson, I., 504, gives the essential facts of this incident. 
"Jackson to Hickman, March 21, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


from Pinckney: 1,500 men with ample provisions were about 
to move from Fort Stoddart for the Hickory Gromids and these 
would make the future secure. The long sought opportunity 
was at hand and Jackson hesitated no longer. Leaving his river 
base he marched through the forest for that point on the Talla- 
poosa, sixty miles away, in which the enemy during two months 
had been preparing for their last stand.' 

Early in the morning of March 27th, he was before it. In 
a horse-shoe-like bend of the river lay a thousand warriors and 
about three hundred women and children, the flower of the 
hostile Creeks. Across the narrow part of the peninsula within 
the bend was a zigzag wall of logs from five to eight feet high, 450 
yards long, and pierced by a double row of port-holes. The 
angles of the zigzag enabled the defenders to cover the ground 
in front of it with a cross fire. The area enclosed was 100 acres. 
In the part nearest the wall trees were feUed so that their inter- 
laced branches made excellent covert for sharp-shooters. Along 
the banks were the huts of the inhabitants, with canoes drawn 
up on the edge of the water. To the unskilled savage this doubt- 
less seemed an impregnable position; but the trained soldier 
would have understood that it afforded poor egress, should it 
have to be abandoned in the face of an enemy. 

Jackson's plan of attack was quickly formed. He proposed 
to surround the foe and make the destruction as complete as 
possible. He placed his infantry before the unpleasant looking 
wall to carry it at the right moment. He planted his two small 
caimon on a hiU which at a distance of eighty yards commanded 
the whole zigzag defense. He ordered Coffee with the cavalry 
and mounted men and the friendly Indians to cross the river 
and hold the opposite bank so as to prevent escape in that 
direction. At 10.30 o'clock, when Coffee was hardly in position, 
Jackson ordered the artillery to batter down the enemy's fortifi- 

>Finckney to Jackson, March 8 and 33, 1814, Jackson Mbs. 


cations. For two hours the six- pounder tried ineffectually to do 
this, while the infantry kept up a galling fire whenever an Indian 
showed himself. 

While this happened Coffee's friendly Indians made a diversion 
which soon brought the battle to a close fight. Seeing the canoes 
of the hostiles they swam across the river, seized them, and 
rushed among the huts burning them and scattering the women 
in confusion. The infantry observing the smoke of these fires 
urged that they be allowed to charge the wall. Permission 
was given, and the 39th regiment with the East Termessee 
mUitia under Doherty were soon within the enclosure fighting 
hand to hand with the, enemy in the mass of fallen timber and 
underbrush. It was an unequal contest for the Creeks, but 
they asked no quarter. They retreated to whatever protection 
the place afforded and fired at every opportunity. When a 
flag of truce was sent to a group of them thus placed, it was re- 
ceived with a shower of bullets. By three o'clock the battle was 
over. No Indians remained in the enclosure except a few who 
were concealed in clefts in the rocks some of whom by good 
fortime escaped in the night. Eight hundred were killed and 
300, all but four of whom were women, were captured. The re- 
ports mention no wounded Indians. Jackson thought that 
not more than twenty escaped. The Americans lost 45 killed 
and 145 wounded. Among the former was Major Mont- 
gomery, of the Thirty-Ninth; among the latter was Jackson 
himself whose injury was sHght, and Samuel Houston, then 
hardly more than a boy, whose wounds were at first thought 
fatal. Three of the Creek prophets, whose harangues did much 
to bring on the war, were killed. One of them was struck in 
the mouth by a grape-shot, "as if," said Jackson, "Heaven 
designed to chastise him by an appropriate punishment.'" 

'The reports of Jackson, Co£Eee, and Morgan, who commanded the friendly Cherokees, are in Niles, VI., 
146, where Jackson's report to Blount is dated March 31: a copy in the Jackson Mss. is dated April 2, 1814. 


To some gentle spirits it seemed imnecessary to kill so many 
Indians; but to the people of Tennessee, who remembered 
fifty years of border warfare, it seemed just and appropriate. 
It was their glory that it came at last under one of their own 
leaders. When some one asked Governor Blount how it was 
that Jackson killed so many Indians he replied, "Because he 
knows how to do it.'" 

The battle of the Horse-Shoe, or Tohopeka, broke the Creek 
power of resistance. Since the beginning of hostilities in the 
preceding October they had lost by death in battle, according 
to the rather indefinite published reports, thirteen hundred 
and twenty. If we consider that many of the dead were not 
accounted for and many wounded were incapacitated for further 
service, we shall see that their fighting strength was now di- 
minished by about twenty-five hundred and was probably not 
much more than fifteen himdred. This panic-stricken rem- 
nant, offering no more resistance, collected in the towns of 
the lower Tallapoosa, where some believed superhuman power 
would save their sacred places from desecration. 

Jackson left them little time to doubt the issue. Returning 
to Fort Williams for suppUes, he gave his army a needed rest 
and ten days after the battle of Tohopeka marched for the 
towns on the lower Tallapoosa. On April 15th he was joined 
by the Georgia militia, and three days later the combined force 
reached the junction of the rivers. Going thither they saw 
many abandoned villages but no warriors. The inhabitants 
had fled to Florida, where they were safe, and where they kept up 
their adverse organization without restraint from Spain. The 
hostile party numbered a thousand and did not cease to plan 
reprisals on the whites until, in 1818, Jackson entered Florida 
and convinced them that not even a Spanish fort could protect 
them from his vengeance. 

^Blount to Jackson, January is, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


Many of the Creeks did not flee, but came into the American 
camp and submitted. One of them was the chief Weathersford, 
a half-breed, rich in lands and cattle. Another chief equally 
prominent, McQueen, escaped with the fugitives. April 20th, 
General Pinckney arrived and took command. On the twenty- 
first he ordered Jackson to Fort Williams to erect forts and plant 
garrisons in the conquered territory. This placed the strong 
willed Tennesseean in an independent command and removed 
the possibility of a clash between superior and subordinate. 
Near the Hickory Ground, a strong fort was built and called 
Fort Jackson. 

When Tennessee fought and won the Creek war, she had a 
definite purpose: She desired to break the Spanish-Indian 
Alliance, to bring the Creek trade into American instead of 
Spanish hands, to gain complete military ascendency over the 
Creeks, to open and make safe the Coosa-Alabama River com- 
munication, to acquire rich lands for settlement, and to plant 
American power so strongly on the Florida border that the 
future expulsion of Spain from Florida might be an easy task. 
When the Creeks were at last broken she felt a great impulse 
to have all these advantages. With it came the conviction 
that the national government, from its traditionally mild poUcy 
toward the Indians, could not be trusted to demand all that 
ought to be taken. Especially, she distrusted the benev- 
olent Hawkins, who had long held the position of 
Creek agent and fulfilled his duties on the theory that he was 
father and friend of the red men. 

The first views of the government were in keeping with its 
policy of mildness. March 17th, in anticipation of the final 
outcome of the campaign. Secretary Armstrong told Pinckney 
that the terms of peace should include an indemnity in lands, 
relinquishment of Spanish influence among the Creeks, freedom 
of travel in the Nation, and the surrender of the prophets who 


instigated the war.' Three days later, possibly in response to 
efforts of the Tennessee congressmen who were always in close 
touch with the situation, the terms were altered and Pinckney 
was instructed to require merely a military capitulation/ Jack- 
son, himself, thought that the Indians ought to surrender un- 
conditionally, and Pinckney agreed with him.' It was, there- 
fore, on such a basis that the Creeks who did not flee to Florida 
submitted to the American military authority. Of those who 
thus placed themselves in the hands of the Americans the 
majority were friendly in the war and beUeved that they had 
nothing to fear from unconditional submission. It was an- 
nounced to aU that they would be summoned later to a council 
in order to conclude a general peace. 

The work of the army was now over. Leaving strong gar- 
risons in the forts, Jackson turned his face toward Nashville, 
where honors were prepared for him. To his soldiers he sent 
a triumphant peal by way of parting. "Your vengeance," 
he said in a proclamation which struck a sympathetic chord 
in the whole coim try side, "has been glutted. Wherever these 
infuriated allies of the arch enemy assembled their forces for 
battle, you have seen them overthrown. . . . The bravery 
you have displayed on the field of battle, and the vmiform good 
conduct you have manifested ia your encampment, and on your 
line of march, wiU long be cherished in the memory of your 
general, and wiU not be forgotten by the country which you 
have so materially benefitted."* 

In Tennessee the rejoicings were tumultuous; for it was the 
state's first important historic achievement. When the cam- 
paign began, seven months earlier, Jackson had many enemies. 
Two months later, when mutiny existed at Fort Strother and 

^American Slate Papers, Indian AJfairs, I., 836. 
'.bid, I, 837. 

•Pinckney to Jackson, April 14, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
'April 38, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


when some of the sanest heads began to shake at what people 
said was his obstinacy, these enemies were exultant. Now 
all opponents were silenced and shamed, and from that time he 
was the state's military hero. 

From these marks of glory he turned gladly to the "Hermitage" 
where Mrs. Jackson awaited him. She had watched the cam- 
paign with anxiety. A number of letters which she wrote him 
at this period witness her distress from his absence and her joy 
at his return. They are the only letters from her found in that 
large collection which tells so much of his Hfe. From their 
tender sentiment we may think he had not the heart to destroy 
them. They seem to be the only unedited letters which pos- 
terity has from her pen; and one of them is given here as an 
illustration of the spirit of the woman who had the affection 
of one of the most strenuous of the world's leaders. 

Hermitage, Feb. 10, 1814. 
My Dearest Lite.- 

I received your letter by Express. Never shall I forgit it 
I have not slept one night since. What a dreadfuU scene it was — 
how did I feel. I never can describe it. I Cryed aloud and 
praised my god For your safety how thankfuU I was — Oh 
my imfortunate Nephew he is gon how I deplore his Loss 
his imtimely End — My dear pray let me conjur you by 
every Tie of Love of friendship to let me see you before 
you go againe I have borne it untill now it has thrown me 
into feavours I am very imwell — my thoughts is never 
diverted from that dreadfull scene oh how dreadfuU to me 
& the mercy and goodness of Heaven to me you are spared 
perils and Dangers so maney troubles — my prayer is un- 
ceaseing how long O Lord will I remain so unhappy no 
rest no Ease. I cannot sleepe all can come home but you 
I never wanted to see you so mutch in my life had it not 
have been for Stokel Hayes I should have started oute to Hunts- 
ville let me know and I will fly on the wings of the purest affec- 
tion I must see you pray my Darling never make me so un- 


happy for aney Country I hope the Campain will soon end 
the troops that is now on their way will be suflScient to eiid 
the ware in the Creek Country You have now don more 
than any other man ever did before you have served your 
country long enough You have gained many Laurels You 
have bind them and more gloriously than had your situation 
have been diferently and instid of your enemyes injuring 
of you as theay intended it has been an advantage to you 
you have been gon a long time six months in all that time 
what has been your trialls daingers and Diflfyculties hardeships 
oh Lorde of heaven how can I beare it — Colo Hayes waites 
once more I commend you to god his providential eye is on 
you his parental Care is garding you — my prayers my tears 
is for your safety Day and night farewell I fell too mutch 
at this moment our Dear Little Son is well he sayes maney 
things to swet papa which I have not time to mention — the 
Cohest blessings of Heaven awaite you Crown your, wishes 
— health and happy Days imtill we meete — Let it not be 
Long from your Dearest friend and faithfuU wife untill 

Mrs. Jackson was an illiterate woman: probably most of her 
mental development came through a deeply religious life. Many 
of her phrases are conventional expressions in the fervid 
pulpit language of the day. But she had an extremely benevo- 
lent nature, and through her emotions she ruled her hus- 
band's affection imtil the day of her death. It was no slight 
achievement, and whatever her education, it indicates that 
naturally she was a woman of distinction. 

A reward more tangible than popular esteem came in pro- 
motion to rank in the regular army. Pinckney suggested it to 
Armstrong, who on May 20th, offered a brigadier-generalship 
with a brevet major-generalship, saying it was all he could 
then do; but he added that Jackson should have the next 
first-class vacancy.' The promise was speedily fulfilled. Major- 

' 'Campbell to Jackson, May 29, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

-f^*-hy .'Cn^' 


rom a miniature on ivory by Anna C. Peak. The date is given as i8ig and the place as Washington. But 

Mrs. Jackson seems not to have been in Washington with Jackson in that year. She snent the winter 

of 1824-1825 in the capital. Her husband, it is sa'd, wo--- ti^i^; miniature over his 

heart from her death in 1828 until his own demise seventeen years later 


General Harrison was in the midst of a quarrel with the govern- 
ment and tendered his resignation. It was accepted and on 
May 28th, the position was offered to Jackson. With it went 
the command of the seventh military district, including Louisiana 
and Mississippi Territory. Thus did the frontier soldier, who 
eighteen months earlier had not commanded an expedition or a 
detachment, come to occupy the highest rank in the army of 
his coimtry. No other man in that country's service since the 
revolution has risen to the top quite so qmckly.' 

With the command of the seventh military district came 
orders go to Fort Jackson and make a treaty of peace with the 
Creeks. This pleased the Tennesseeans, who felt that in his eyes 
their views would find favor. The first announcement from 
Washington in regard to the treaty was that Pinckney and 
Hawkins would make it. This disappointed the people of the 
West. They sent a protest against the proposed appointments 
signed by nine of Jackson's highest officers, asking that the 
negotiations be left in the hands of some one who knew the needs 
of the frontier better. The fact that Jackson was not one of 
the signers of this paper seems to indicate that it was contem- 
plated that he should have the appointment.' 

Most of the hostile Creeks were in Florida when the great 
council met on the date named, August i, 1814. Those who at- 
tended were such as submitted in the preceding spring, and a 
large mmiber of friendly allies.' The former expected little 
consideration, since they surrendered at discretion; but the 
latter looked for reward rather than punishment. 

Neither party was prepared for the terms which Jackson 
quietly announced as his ultimatmn. Without much oppor- 
tunity of deliberation he presented a treaty and commanded 
the chiefs to sign it. It conceded to the Americans military 

'Armstrong to Jackson, May 38, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

'Jackson Mss. 

'Jackson to CoSee, July 17, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


posts and roads in the Creek Nation, freedom to navigate the 
rivers, and the relinquishment of trade relations with Spain. 
To all these the friendly Creeks returned submissive answers; 
for they desired to see the Nation Americanized. But his 
demands for land astonished both factions. It went, in fact, 
beyond reasonable indemnity and took more than half of the 
old Creek territory. He demanded an L-shaped belt of rich 
lands lying west and south of the part which would remain to the 
Nation; and he told the council that the Great Father in Wash- 
ington wanted this belt to separate his children, the Creeks, 
from the Choctaws and Chickasaws on the west and from the 
Spaniards in Florida, so that the Creeks should never again 
be drawn by those powers into war with the United States. 
The traditional hostility, added this relentless pacificator, 
between the Creeks and the Cherokees was guarantee that the 
latter would never do the Creeks a similar disservice, and for 
that reason he made no demands for territory on the north. 

The friendly Creeks dared not openly refuse but they sought 
delay. They said that since half the chieftains were in Flor- 
ida, the council was not competent to cede so large a part of 
the ancient inheritance, and they proposed to postpone the 
matter until there was a general peace. Jackson curtly told 
them to sign the treaty as prepared or join their relatives in 
Florida. They could not carry on the war, and so on August 9, 
1814, the treaty was accepted. The older chiefs protested and 
warned Jackson that his people would have trouble in taking 
possession of the land. He knew well that they were right, but 
he was willing to leave the future to take care of itself. The 
treaty of Fort Jackson only half ended the Creek War, as the 
events of the next four years were to show. 

The boundary line between the Creek and American territory, 
as provided in the treaty, was to begin on the Coosa where 
the river crossed the Cherokee boundary line, thence to run 


southward with the river to the Great Falls, seven miles north of 
Fort Jackson, and thence east in an irregular line to the Georgia 
boundary. If the residence of any friendly chief should fall 
within the region thus ceded, he was to have, as long as he 
chose to hold it, a reservation of one square mile Ijang around 
the residence.' 

'For the text of the treaty see American Slate Papers, Indian Afairs, I., 836: ior Correspondence see /Mi, 
837. The Tennessee view of the treaty is well given in Reid and Eaton, Jackson, zgS-sog. 



From the completion of the treaty of Fort Jackson, August 9, 
1814, until December ist, Jackson gave himself to the defense 
of Mobile and the surroimding country, leaving to its own re- 
sources the more important position of New Orleans. Several 
reasons convinced him it was wise to look first after the defenses 
of Mobile: (i) he wanted to keep the Creeks overawed, so 
as to retain the conquests already made; (2) the fugitives were 
receiving aid from the British and were likely to renew the 
war; (3) like other Tennesseeans he had a high opinion of the 
value of the Mobile-Alabama-Tennessee line of communication; 

(4) he longed for an opportunity to strike Spain in Florida; 

(5) he did not during this period have clear evidence that the 
British woidd make a direct attack on New Orleans; and (6) 
he had, on the contrary, many apparently safe intimations 
that they would attack Louisiana through MobUe. All these 
seemed to Jackson reasons justifying a prolonged stay in Mobile. 
His idea of military policy gave added reasons. 

Jackson's strategy was that of the frontier Indian fighter. 
To move straight and quickly, surround and exterminate the 
foe summed up his mihtary theory. Few American generals 
have equaled him in courage, promptness, perseverance, re- 
sourcefulness, and the abiUty to command the confidence of 
his oflScers and the obedience of his private soldiers. These 
were natural qualities, and they are much more than half 
the making of a great soldier; but they were not all. He lacked 
— for he had no opportunity to acquire — the trained officer's 



knowledge of military technique. Had he risen through the 
lower grades of service the deficiency might not have existed, 
though this is not entirely certain. The campaign preliminary 
to the attack on New Orleans was poorly planned from a miU- 
tary standpoint. It involved the loss of more than two months 
given to the invasion of Florida, with no more important result 
than to impress the Indians — a result which one regiment 
on the frontier might have accomplished equally as well; and 
in the meantime the defenses of New Orleans, and even those 
of Mobile, were not adequately developed. It was his good 
fortune that Pakenham, at the final test of strength, utterly 
despised him. The British commander threw aside through 
disdain the caution of an experienced officer as effectively as 
Jackson lacked it through ignorance of the art of war. So far, 
therefore, as his short career witnesses, the "Hero of New 
Orleans" was a man who would blunder against his opponent 
and then defeat him by sheer fighting. But it is necessary to 
remember that there are many generals of whom we cannot 
say as much as this. 

When Wilkinson left the seventh district in the spring of 1813, 
the command devolved on Brigadier-General Floumoy. Later 
in the year, General Pinckney was placed in command, in order 
to direct the Creek war, but his appointment did not supersede 
Floumoy's authority for other purposes. The latter officer, 
under the secretary of war, was responsible for the defenses 
of that district. In the spring of 1814, he tired of the posi- 
tion and sent his resignation to the secretary, and about July 
loth, left New Orleans,' so that from this time tiU the arrival 
of Jackson on December ist, it had no higher officer than a 
colonel. The period was one of inactivity, dissension, and 

Jackson intended, when he set out from Nashville to meet 

'Major Hughes to R. Butler, July S, 1S14, Jackson Mss. 


the Creek council at Fort Jackson, and to return to Tennessee 
and go to New Orleans by water, where he would open district 
headquarters. But while journeying to the council he learned 
that a British expedition was at the mouth of the Apalachicola 
River, where a fort was being built supplied with 22,000 stands 
of arms and ammunition for the fugitive Creeks, and where 
nine British ofl&cers were training the savages in the methods 
of civilized warfare.' This event, he thought, threatened a 
renewal of the Creek war, and he concluded that he was needed 
near the Florida border. He wrote to the secretary of war 
for permission to carry his arms into the Spanish province, 
promising, if the request were granted, "that the war in the 
South shall have a speedy termination, and EngUsh influence 
be forever destroyed with the savages in this quarter." The 
secretary replied promptly enlarging on our neutral obligations 
but saying finally that, if the Spaniards were reaUy aiding the 
British and Indians, Jackson would be justified in dealing the 
proposed blow. The letter was indefinite enough to support 
a disavowal, if one should become necessary, but explicit enough 
to suit the commander of the seventh district, who awaited only 
a wink from the eye of the secretary' of war. But for some un- 
explained reason the communication did not reach its destina- 
tion until January 17, 181 5.' It was a useless connivance, and 
the expedition which Jackson conducted against Pensacola was 
made, in default of this letter, on his own responsibility. It 
had the hearty approval of the people of the Southwest, whose 
view may be stated in the words of an anonymous correspondent 
inPensacola. "The neutrality of this province," he wrote, "is no 
more: it is entirely done away with, and if you do not take advan- 
tage of the present opportvmity to come on, John Bull will."' 

'Jackson to Governor Claiborne, August 2J, 1814, also anonymous letter from Pensacola, June s, 1814, 
Jackaon Mss. 
'Armstrong afterward said that it was Madison, who delayed the letter, Armstrong's Notices, page 16 n. *■ 
^.^-n anonymous letter dated June 5, 1814, Jackson Mas. 


When he wrote to the secretary, Jackson wrote also to the 
governor of Florida, sending the letter by the sensible and 
observant Captain Gordon, of the company of spies.' The 
communication was in the nature of a formal demand which 
precedes an attack. It called for the surrender of the fugitive 
chiefs, asked why our enemies received aid and comfort in Span- 
ish territory, and made formal complaint of the British pro- 
ceedings on the Apalachicola. Gordon returned and reported 
that he saw the hostile Indians hold a council in the public 
square of Pensacola, that he saw them drive cattle through the 
town, some of which they avowed were taken from the whites 
on the Tensas, that he saw them receive provisions from the 
Spanish authorities; and was told that they would receive ammu- 
nition from the same source when he was gone.' 

The reply of the governor came soon after the arrival of 
Captain Gordon. The hostile chiefs, he said, could not be 
given up, because (i) they were not at hand; (2) they could 
not be rightfully demanded, and he reminded his correspondent 
that Spain had not demanded Gutierrez, Toledo, or any other 
revolutionist who was harbored in the United States; (3) 
Spain was bound by treaty to give hospitality to the Creeks; and 
(4) it was not denied that the British landed arms and ammuni- 
tion on the lower Apalachicola, but the action was justified on 
the ground that the Creeks by an old treaty with England had 
certain rights on that river. In closing the governor, sent this 
parting shot: "Turn your eyes to the Isle of Barataria and you 
wiU there perceive that in the very territory of the United States, 
pirates are sheltered and protected with the manifold design 
of committing hostiUties by sea, upon the Merchant vessels 
of Spain, and with such scandalous notoriety that the cargoes 
of our vessels taken by these pirates have been sold in Louisiana, 

'Jackson to Coffee, July 17. 1814, Jackson Mss. 
'Gordon to Jackson, July [30I, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


as was the case with the Pastora (Shepherdess) and with other 
vessels.'" A moment's reflection will probably convince the 
reader that not all the breaches of neutraUty and international 
comity were on the southern side of the Florida boundary line. 

Jackson beheved in his own side of the matter, and the reply 
of the governor thoroughly infuriated him. He forwarded to 
Pensacola a counterblast which was creditable neither to him 
nor the government he represented. It breathed the spirit of 
the backwoods bully. "To sum up the whole," he said, "Jus- 
tice to my government compels me to remark, if your Excel- 
lency had been as industrious in your researches for facts as 
you have been studious of evasions and unfounded innuendos, 
you might have long since have acquired a knowledge that 
Monsieur Le Fete [sic] commander of the piratical band has 
been arrested and confined, and is now under legal trial for the 
multifarious crimes complained of,' and such should be Your 
Excellency's conduct toward Francis, McQueen, Peter and others 
forming that matricidal band for whom your Christian bowels 
seem to sympathize and bleed so freely." He charged the gov- 
ernor with imbecUity and falsehood and closed by saying, "In 
the future I beg you to withhold your insulting charges against 
my government for one more inclined to listen to slander than 
I am; nor consider me any more as a diplomatic character, 
unless so proclaimed to you from the mouths of caimon." 

In spite of these turbulent words the governor replied with 
good effect. He reminded Jackson that the United States could 
not with good grace complain of violated treaties and pointed 
to the proceedings at Baton Rouge in 1810, and at Mobile in 
1813. He showed that they allowed troops to be raised in their 
territory for service against a neutral power, as witness the succor 
of Miranda in his plans against Caracas and of others who 

'Governor Manique to Jackaon, July 26, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

'Jackson was in error about the capture of Lafitte; see below, I. , 148-isa. 


plotted against Mexico. As to the violation of neutrality on 
the Apalachicola, the governor replied, first, the Indians by 
treaty had rights on this river, and secondly, even if the region 
were indubitably Spanish territory he might reply that he had 
no force with which to enforce neutraUty, which was what the 
United States said about the landing of the Baratarians, who 
fortified a post in Louisiana and made it, under the French flag, 
a base of operation against the Spanish commerce. As to 
Lafitte, the general well knew that he was arrested because he 
shed American blood and not for his piracies, and that he was 
still at large continuing to seize Spanish ships. "I have armed 
the Indians," he continued, "and have taken all the measures 
that I have been obliged to take, not for the purpose of commit- 
ting hostilities on the United States nor on their property, but 
to defend myself from the insults that may be offered. If 
the United States continue the aggressions they have begun the 
officers and soldiers subject to my orders will do their duty, 
and support to the last extremity the great, heroic, and generous 
character of the Spanish Nation to which they belong." He 
closed by declaring. "I protest against the act [the treaty of 
Fort Jackson] and declare the cession void in the name of my 
king."' It is evident that the arrival of the British force in 
Pensacola gave increased courage to the Spanish governor. 

This correspondence was not concluded before Jackson 
learned that the British were actually at Pensacola. August 
Sth, Col. Edward Nicholls, with three ships of war and 
200 soldiers, landed there, took possession of a fort, and boasted 
that within fifteen days he would be followed by 10,000 troops 
and a great fleet, and that within a month afterward Mobile 
and the surrounding country would be in British and Spanish 
hands. The news gave Jackson cause for alarm, but he did not 

'The letters from Jackson are in his letter-book, July 12, and August 24, 1814, among the Jackson Mss., 
where are also the replies of the governor, July 16 and August 30, 1814. 


seem afraid. He sent urgent orders for the dispatch of rein- 
forcements and remarked, "There wUl be bloody noses before 
this happens.'" 

Nicholls's purpose in Florida was twofold: He expected to 
organize out of the fugitive Creeks and other tribes a strong 
body of auxiliary troops to be used against the settlements, 
and the marked unrest among all the savages after the treaty 
of Fort Jackson made it seem that this was not an idle hope. 
That done, MobUe would be seized and with that as a base the 
British and their aUies would harry the border from Georgia 
to Tennessee, cutting the Mississippi at some point above Nat- 
chez and isolating New Orleans so that the city would fall easily 
into their hands. The plan was not unreasonable; for Floumoy 
left Mobile's defenses so weak that the British were justified 
in disregarding them, and Mobile taken it was fair to expect 
that the Indians would join the victors in strength. 

Nicholls was a man of acknowledged bravery, an impetuous 
Irishman, described as "warm in the cause of the African race 
and the depressed and distressed Indians." He armed the 
savages and clothed them in British uniforms. They were 
organized in a separate body imder "the notorious" Captain 
Woodbine and became an object of horror to the settlements, 
where people seem to have forgotten that Jackson himself 
had Indian allies similarly organized and commanded by white 
officers. It was generally believed that Nicholls also planned 
to arm the negro slaves against the whites, but the evidence 
in support of the allegation is not convincing.' NichoUs be- 
lieved, with some show of truth, that the old inhabitants of 
Louisiana were not very loyal to the United States: he sent 
out, therefore, a proclamation telling them that the British 
were come to relieve them from the hands of the usurper, and 

>Jackson to R. Butlei, August 27, 1814, Jackson Ms3. 

'But Monroe gave it credence. See Monroe to Jackson, September 7, 1814, Jackson Ms3. 


calling on them to take part in the struggle. Mindful of the former 
defection in Kentucky, he imagined the people of that state 
could be turned against the government, and he called on them 
to repudiate its authority. He said nothing to the Tennesseeans.' 

In 1814 Mobile had 150 houses and most of the population 
did not speak EngHsh. Fort Charlotte, its ancient defense, 
was a small work so placed that it protected nothing but the 
ground covered by its guns. The key to the position was thirty 
miles from the town at the entrance to the bay. Here the 
channel lies between some islands and Mobile Point, a long 
sandspit thrust out from the eastern mainland. On the end of 
this spit Wilkinson in 18 13, just before his departure for the 
North, ordered the erection of a fortification which he called 
Fort Bowyer. Its waUs were of sand, and it was equipped with 
twenty guns of various sizes. The work was begun, but Flournoy 
thought little of it and did nothing toward finishing it. In 
fact, he thought so little of Mobile as a military post that he 
advised the government to withdraw the garrison. The secre- 
tary of war liked the suggestion and sent it to Jackson for his 
consideration,' who was so far from accepting it that imme- 
diately after his arrival in the town, he sent down Major Law- 
rence with 160 men' who by working day and night for two weeks 
placed the fort in a tolerable state of defense. 

This was not a moment too soon. September 1 2th, four British 
ships commanded by Captain Percy, of the navy, appeared 
off the fort. They were the Hermes, 22 guns; the Carron, 20 
guns; and the Sophie and the Childers, 18 each. They came 
from Pensacola and anchoring six miles east of Fort Bowyer, 
put ashore 60 marines and 120 Indians,' who immediately 

iMouroe to Jackson, September 7, 1814, Jackson Mss. For NichoUs's proclamations see Latour Historical 
Memoir, appendix, page vii., and Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 338. 

sAnnstrong to Jackson, July 2, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

'Latour says one hundred and thirty. Eistorical Memoir, 34. 

•The figures follow James, the English historian, Military Occurrences, II., 343. Latour says one hundred 
and twenty marines and six hundred Indians, Historical Memoir, 40, and Reid and Eaton make the Indiam 
iour hundred. Jackson, 334. 


constructed some weak earthworks within cannon shot of the 
fort. The Americans with their long guns drove them back to 
a respectful distance, and they were useless in the battle of the 
fifteenth. They seem to have been landed merely to intercept 
the garrison if it tried to escape by land. 

After three days spent in taking soundings and in making other 
preparations, Percy, on the fifteenth, brought his four ships, the 
Hermes leading, into position for attack. The channel was 
narrow and only two vessels, the Hermes and the Sophie, got 
in easy distance. If all of them could have been brought into 
action at once, it would stUl have been hazardous for them 
unsupported by a strong landing party to try to destroy earth- 
works, and Percy, who was an able officer, would not have made 
the attempt if he had not, like Pakenham at New Orleans, felt 
contempt for the fighting qualities of the Americans. 

The battle opened at half past four in the afternoon and 
was waged fiercely from the first. Lawrence's men served 
their pieces with precision and at the end of an hour one of the 
shots cut the cable of the Hermes, and in the hot fire the vessel 
became unmanageable. Drifting directly xmder the American 
guns it was raked by a heavy fire, the crew lost control, forsook 
the deck, and the ship went on a sand bank still within range of 
the fort. Percy now decided to abandon the ship and accom- 
plished the feat with coolness, first setting her on fire to keep 
her from falling into the hands of his foe. All his wounded 
were transferred to the Sophie, which was so severely used 
that it was thought advisable to withdraw her also from the 
engagement. As the three survivors sailed away, the Hermes was 
burning brightly and at eleven at night blew up w^ith a great 
report. This beautiful vessel,with 3 1 men killed and 40 wounded, 
was the British loss, while Lawrence reported only 4 killed and 
5 wounded. Percy embarked his landing party and returned 
immediately to Pensacola, where hopes of success had been high. 


The day before the battle, Jackson, in response to a request 
from Lawrence, sent reinforcements to Fort Bowyer, They 
arrived during the bombardment and concluding that it was 
impossible to reach the garrison returned at once to Mobile. 
While still on the bay they heard the report of the exploding 
Hermes, construed it as disaster to their friends, and hastened 
to Jackson with the news that the fort was blown up. For, 
many hours there was a sad state of consternation in the town. 
It was not until the seventeenth, probably in the afternoon, that 
the commander knew that the Americans were successful.' 

The repulse of the British brought to a close all Nicholls's 
boasted plans for movements into the interior, if, indeed, he 
seriously entertained them. It produced on the Indians an 
effect favorable to the Americans. Jackson thought, also, 
that it was a good time to impress the inhabitants of Louisiana, 
and he sent forth two proclamations with that purpose. In 
one he called on the Louisianians to observe how the intruders 
were driven back and urged them to rally to the support of their 
government. In the other he made a strong appeal to the free 
people of color in Louisiana, teUing them to organize in corps 
under the direction of the governor of the state in order to 
protect their homes and Uberty.' 

For nearly three months after this event the British advance 
expedition lay quietly in Pensacola, awaiting the arrival of the 
main body. Jackson, ignorant of what was planned, burned 
with a desire to get at them. He threw aside all scruples about 
violating neutrality, as he might well do; for Florida wasreaUy 
not neutral territory. He determined to wait no more for 
the approval of government, but to make a quick march on 
Pensacola as soon as he could get reinforcements which he 

■Jackson to Butler, September 17, 1814, Jactson Mss. shows that he did not know of the victory when the 
letter was written. On the same day, he wrote a letter to Lawrence complimenting him on the victory. Latoui, 
Mistorical Memoir, 43. 

=^For texts of these proclamations see Latour, Historical Memoir^ Appendix, pages zzix and xxxi. 


expected from Tennessee by way of Forts Strother and Jackson. 
He sent urgent orders northward where Coffee was preparing 
to march with a strong body of cavalry and mounted riflemen. 
Meantime, reliable information continually arrived, making 
it appear that the Indians, spite of their respect for the Ameri- 
can successes, were in a dangerous frame of mind. One of 
NichoUs's first acts was to send agents among the friendly tribes 
urging them to save their hunting grounds while they could 
have British assistance and inviting them to send delegates to 
consult with him in Florida. Many chiefs, particularly of 
the Creeks, who were disappointed at the treaty of Fort Jackson, 
accepted the invitation. One of them was the Big Warrior 
himself, the leading friendly Creek at the councU, who signed 
the treaty with great reluctance. Americans who returned from 
Pensacola reported that he visited the place and was entertained 
by the English commander. They also reported that Captain 
Woodbine was daily drilling his savage recruits and boasting 
that all the friendly Creeks were about to forsake the Ameri- 
cans.' All this made Jackson very anxious to deliver a blow 
at the centre of mischief. 

When he reached Mobile, August 15, he had under his 
command 2,378 regulars, distributed at various points on the 
coast and including the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 39th, and 44th regiments, 
all of which were much less than regulation size.' These were 
intended for the defense of the department against possible 
external danger. To fill the forts erected in the newly conquered 
Creek territory the secretary of war in July, 1814, called for 
2,500 Tennessee militia, fixing September 20th, for their assem- 
bling. Col. Robert Butler, adjutant-general, was in Nashville 
supervising the raising of these troops when, on August 27th, 
news came to Mobile that NichoUs was at Pensacola. Jackson 

^Claiborne to Jackson, August ao, 1S14, Jackson Msa. 
"Adams, History of Ike United States, VIII., 316- 


got the information at five o'clock in the afternoon, and before 
he slept wrote several urgent letters calling out every available 
man for the defense of the coast. Butler was directed to has- 
ten the march of the militia, the Louisiana and Mississippi 
militia were summoned, the friendly Indians were called out, 
and the contractors were ordered to place supplies for 3,000 
men along the Coosa-Alabama line of transportation. Fort 
Jackson was named as the place of rendezvous: it was 100 
miles from Pensacola and the road thither was good. 

His letters to Butler are as full of details as if he were still 
major-general of the Tennessee militia. He shows that he un- 
derstands all the conditions at home, and in one characteristic 
outburst expresses his deep anxiety at the situation. "I would 
to God, John Hutchings could come," he exclaims, "I wish you 
would say to the Irish to drop their race and betake themselves to 
the defense of their country. If this was not in the way, I know 
Joney would bring a company of mounted men into the field.'" 

The prospect of a campaign in Florida brought a warm re- 
sponse from the men of Tennessee, and Butler found his task 
easy. October 5th, Coffee marched southward with 2,000 
horsemen from West Tennessee: on the journey he was joined 
by 500 more from the east and by some irregular companies 
to the number of 300, so that he arrived at the rendezvous with 
2,800 enthusiastic followers. Jackson, aware of his approach, 
moved out of Mobile on October 25th, and the two bodies were 
united at Pierce's Stockade, or Mills, on the Alabama River." 

Halting here to reorganize his forces, he sent the secretary 
of war a statement of his motives, saying: 

As I act without orders of the government, I deem it impor- 
tant to state to you my reasons for the measure I am about 

'Jackson to R. Butler, August 27 and 28, and September 8, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

'R. Butler to Coffee, September 10 and 13 ; Coffee to Dyer, September 1 1 and October i ; Hayne to Coffee, 
October 19; Coffee to Governor Blount, October 4, 1814; Jackson Mss. 


to adopt. First I conceive the safety of this section of the 
union depends upon it. The hostiUty of the Governor of Pen- 
sacola in permitting the place to assume the character of British 
territory by resigning the command of the fortress to them, 
permitting them to fit an expedition against the United States, 
and after its failure to return to the town, refit, and make ar- 
rangements for a second expedition. At the same time making 
me a declaration that he (the governor) had armed the Indians 
and sent them into our territory. Knowing at the same time 
that these very Indians had under the command of a British 
officer captured our citizens and destroyed their property within 
our own territory.' 

The whole number of men fit for duty at Pierce's Stockade 
was now about four thousand, but 780 of them were Indians." 
Lack of forage in Florida made that region difficult for horse- 
men, and all but 1,000 of Coffee's men were ordered to stay 
with their horses on the banks of the Alabama. On the after- 
noon of November 6th, the rest of the force, 3,000 men, were 
before Pensacola. The commander halted long enough to send 
in his demands under a flag of truce. His messenger was that 
Major Peire, of the 44th regiment, who was Wilkinson's mes- 
senger when Mobile was seized in 1813,' and he was sent to 
announce to the Spaniard that Jackson came not to make 
war on Spain, but to insist on the neutrality of Florida. In 
order that this might be ensured, Jackson demanded that the 
Barrancas and other fortifications be placed in his hands in 
one hour and without armed resistance: otherwise, he added, 
"I will not hold myself responsible for the conduct of my en- 
raged soldiers and warriors.'" Jackson was thus threatening 
to use the same methods of distressing the enemy which the 

'Jsckson to secretary of war, October j6, 1814, Jackson Mss. The British officer referred to is Woodbine. 
■Jackson's morning report for October 30, gives the number as 4117, but its computations seem defective. 
See Jackson Mss. 
■Hamilton, Cohniot Mobile, 55Q. 
*A copy is in Jackson Mss. See also Reid ana Eaton, Jackson, 247. 


Americans complained so loudly of the British for using in 
the Northwest. But the letter was not delivered. The gover- 
nor, mindful, perhaps, of the American general's letter of the 
preceding August 30th, fired on the flag of truce, and Major 
Peire returned to the army. It was then too late in the after- 
noon to begin an attack, but arrangements were made for one 
in the early morning. 

Pensacola lies on the shore of the bay and the defenses were 
constructed on the theory that it would be attacked from the 
west along the beach. The British ships, seven in number, 
were so placed that their guns could command this approach. 
East of the town the beach was narrow but undefended, and 
Jackson determined to attack from this quarter. Early in the 
morning he sent a column of 500 to make a feint on the west 
and threw his main body to the opposite side by a rapid detour. 
lie thus entered the streets of the town before the men-of-war 
could change their position, and before the Spanish authorities 
realized his tactics. In the streets there was a sharp battle. 
A battery opened on him with sohd shot and grape, while a 
musketry fire raked his flanks from the houses and garden. 
Captain Laval, of the 3d regiment, led the advance with his 
company and two field-pieces. He fell in the streets severely 
woxmded, but his men carried the battery in good style. Other 
colirams penetrated other parts of the city, driving the Spanish 
soldiers from gardens and houses. A body of Choctaws under 
Major Blue were also within the town with the army. As 
soon as the governor reahzed that these forces held the streets 
he became terrified and hastened forward with a flag to sur- 
render the town and its fortifications. It was agreed that forts, 
arsenals, and armaments should be given over to the Americans 
till a Spanish force should arrive strong enough to enforce the 
obligations of neutrality, the Americans promising to respect 
the persons and property of the inhabitants. But when the 


public property passed into the hands of the Americans, Jackson 
was careful to order that all arms in the town worth transport- 
ing should be sent at once to Fort Montgomery, a new post 
in Alabama.' 

One of the places which the governor promised to surrender 
was the Barrancas, which commanded the entrance of the 
bay fourteen miles from Pensacola. It had been in the hands of 
the British since the arrival of Nicholls. Jackson gave himself 
much pleasure in the thought that he should turn them out 
and probably make them his prisoners. He was preparing 
to take the place on the morning of the eighth when it was 
abandoned and blown up by the occupants, in order that it 
might not fall into the hands of the Americans.' Gathering 
aU their supplies and taking Woodbine and the Indian allies 
on board the ships, the British sailed away in the early morning, 
leaving Jackson with a barren victory. He felt some chagrin 
at losing out of his grasp both garrison and vessels. But the 
destruction of the Barrancas may have been fortunate for 
the Americans. It kept their commander from attempting 
to hold it, which would have been a costly experiment. He 
at last realized that his work in Pensacola was done and on 
the ninth set out for his own country. On the thirteenth he 
arrived on the Tensas.' 

Admirers of Jackson's courage and honesty have frequently 
to deplore his crude intellect, and they must feel a little disap- 
pointment at the manner in which he swallowed his anger and 
left Pensacola. To the Spanish governor he wrote: "Finding 
that the Barrancas and fortifications adjacent to it, have been 
surrendered to and blown up by the British, contrary to the 
good faith I was induced to place in your promises, I find it 

^Jackson to Hayne, November 8, 1814, Jackson Mss. A copy of the terms of surrender is in the Jackson 
•Latour, Historical Memoir, page 50, says that the British persuaded the Spaniards to blow up the fort. 
'Jackson to Blount, November 14, 1814, Jackson Mss. give the writer's account of this movement. 


out of my power to protect your neutrality as I was willing to 
have done. The Enemy having disappeared from your Town 
and the hostile Creeks fled to the forest, I retire from your 
Town, and you are again at liberty to occupy your Fort, as 
I received it for the protection of your citizens." One of his 
officers was wounded severely and had to be left behind. Re- 
ferring to him, Jackson wrote to the governor, forgetful of the 
obligations of courtesy: "I shall therefore expect from you 
sir, that attention and security for the person of this ofl&cer 
that is due, and every brave and honorable man would extend 
to another whose misfortimes had placed him in his power.'" 
Jackson was not a generous foe, and the frontiersman's habits 
of braggadocio and bluster were very deeply fixed in his nature. 
The excursion into Florida satisfied the Southwestern feeling 
against Spain, it improved the morale of the army, it impressed 
the Indians who saw Woodbine and Nicholls for the second 
time scampering away from the irate victor of Tohopeka, it 
strengthened the weak knees in Louisiana,' and it gave Jackson 
himself added confidence in the abiUty of his army. "My 
pride was never more heightened," said he, "than on viewing 
the uniform firmness of my troops, and with what undaunted 
courage they advanced with a strong fort ready to assail them 
on the right, seven British vessels on the left, strong block- 
houses and batteries of carmon on the front, but they still ad- 
vanced with unshaken firmness, [and] entered the town. . . . 
The steady firmness of my troops has drew a just respect from 
our enemies: it has confirmed the red sticks' that they have 
no stronghold or protection only in the friendship of the United 
States. The good order and conduct of my troops whilst in 
Pensacola has convinced the Spaniards of our friendship 
and our prowess, and has drew from the citizens an 

'Jackson to the governor of Pensacola, November g, 1814, Jackson Mss. (s letters). 

'Governor Claiborne to Jackson, November 19, 1S14, Jackson Mss. 

'The hostile Creeks were called "Red Sticks" because they painted their war clubs red. 


expression, that our Choctaws are more civilized than the 

Before we criticize this expedition it is necessary to consider 
Jackson's situation. When it was undertaken, the President 
and cabinet were fugitives from the national capital and he was 
left for weeks to act on his own judgment. He knew nothing 
of the great attack which was impending and had before him 
the simple task of beating o£E the dangers which seemed to 
threaten. The visible peril was an attack from the force then 
in Pensacola, and following his characteristic strategy he struck 
hard and swiftly at the point at which trouble seemed to be 
brewing. In the cataclysm at Washington the country got 
a new secretary of war in the place of the nerveless Armstrong. 
James Monroe, to whom the place went, qualified on October 
ist, after holding the office for a month as an ad interim ap- 
pointee. He had more energy than his predecessor and he and 
Jackson were old friends. One of his first letters to the general 
was in reply to the latter's report of September 9th, giving 
an accoimt of his correspondence with the governor of West 
Florida. He advised Jackson to leave the insolent language 
of the governor to the diplomats and ordered him to do nothing 
which would bring on a war with Spain." When this letter 
reached its destination the expedition was a thing of the past, 
and to the diplomats was left the task of soothing the ruffled 
feelings of the Spanish court, which, indeed, proved no formida- 
ble task, so clearly had. Spain been in the wrong. 

Jackson did not fear the frowns of the government; for he 
had reassuring information from a private source. September 
23d, a friend in the war department to whom he had made 
application wrote after a two hours' conversation with Monroe: 
"You wUl receive all the support in the power of the government, 

■Jackson to Blount, Nov. 14, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
'Monroe to Jacluon, October }i, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


relating to the Spaniards, if it should be necessary to notice 
them in a hostile manner. Colonel Monroe spoke in strong 
terms on the subject, as well as on subjects relating to exten- 
sive national policy.'" 

From the Tensas, Jackson hastened to Mobile. Reliable 
information made it evident that he was needed in New Orleans. 
During the recent operations, he received many letters from 
that quarter, urging his immediate presence there, but he 
considered the work then at hand more important and refused 
to leave until it was thoroughly finished. 

Two things must be done before he could leave the present 
position: Forces must be provided to defend it against a pos- 
sible surprise by the British, and steps must be taken to protect 
the settlements against the hostile Creeks who were stiU lurking 
in Florida. To the former task he assigned the 2d, 3d, and 
39th regiments' with a body of Georgia miUtia now approach- 
ing through the Creek nation, all to be under the command 
of Major-General Mcintosh, of the Georgia militia. Brigadier- 
General Winchester was left in command until the arrival of 
Mcintosh.' Major Blue of the 39th regiment, was given com- 
mand of the force intended to operate against the Indians. It 
was composed of certain companies from West Tennessee, three 
from East Teimessee, and one from Mississippi Territory, in all 
1,000 horsemen, together with the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and 
friendly Creek allies. Blue was ordered to operate along the 
Escambia.' Having made these arrangements to his satisfac- 
tion, Jackson set out on November 21st, for New Orleans, 
going by land so as to inspect the intervening country. 

'Charles Cassiday to Jackson, war office, Washington, September 23, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
•General orders, November 14, 1814. Jackson Mss. 
•Jackson to Winchester, November 14, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
'Jackson to secretary o£ war, November 20, 1814, Jackson Mss. 



New Orleans is situated 105 miles from the mouth of the 
Mississippi and has two water approaches, one by the river 
and the other by Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain. The latter 
opens on Mississippi Sound, which extends as far east as the mouth 
of Mobile Bay and, separated from the Gulf by a chain of small 
islands, makes a protected communication between these two 
important giilf ports. Between the river and the lake is a nar- 
row strip of land on which the city is placed fronting immediately 
on the river and distant from Lake Pontchartrain about four 
miles. The roads which lead to it are built through tropical 
forest and are frequently bordered by swamps impassable 
for bodies of troops, so that the way may be impeded by fallen 
timber, and a few hardy defenders may hold it against greatly 
superior forces. The two lakes are connected by the Rigolets, 
a narrow channel, commanded in 1814, by a small fort at a 
place known as Petites CoquiUes and later known as Fort Pike. 
There were six obvious ways of reaching the city described by 
Jackson's engineers as follows: 

I. The River from Its Mouth — This was the most usual ap- 
proach, but it was, nevertheless, very difficult. The waters 
of the Mississippi reach the Gulf through five comparatively 
shallow "passes," the best of which, then about twelve feet 
deep,' was defended by an old fort at Belize, which was useless 
because the river could be entered by one of the other "passes." 
Fifty miles higher up at a sharp angle in the river was Fort 

>A. P. Bayne to Jackson, November 37, 1814, Jackson Mss. 



St. Philip and across the river from it Old Fort Bourbon. The 
former was an important work, but in the summer of 1814 it 
was in a state of neglect, and the latter was dismantled. The 
best defense of the river was 65 miles still higher up at the 
English Turn. Here the Mississippi makes so decided a txirn 
that for three or four miles it is flowing nearly due north. A 
breeze which would bring a ship to this point would be nearly 
dead ahead when the ship rounded the curve and made south- 

2. Chef Menteur — Fifteen miles east of the city, on Lake 
Pontchartrain, was this high district. It was connected with the 
city by a narrow ridge of dry ground between the swamps. 
The ridge was known as the Plains of Gentilly. The inhabi- 
tants in September thought this the most -ilikely means of 
approach. It was then unfortified but easily defended. 

3. River aux Chines and the Bayou Terre aux Bceufs — East 
of the mouth of the Mississippi and parallel with the river 
were a bay, a short river, and a bayou, which together gave an 
independent line of approach to the east bank of the river at 
the English Turn, sixteen miles from New Orleans. It was 
only navigable by small boats. 

4. The Bayou St. John — This waterway begins at Lake 
Pontchartrain and extends straight west till, at a distance of 
four miles from the origin, it is within two miles of what were 
then the city limits. The bayou was navigable only for small 
boats, it could be made impassable in a few hours by felling 
trees, and the swamps on either side were considered quite 

5. The Bayou La Fourche — This was situated west of the 
Mississippi. Beginning at the gulf shore eighty miles from the 
mouth of that river it extends north to a point where it "forks 
from the Mississippi." It was reported to be easily navigable 

*Claibome to Jackson, November 4; Jackson to Claiborne, December 10, 1S14, Jackson Mss. 


but narrow and readily obstructed. It was estimated that 
i,ooo men stationed midway between the fork and the city 
could march to the bayou on the appearance of an enemy and 
hold him off. 

6. Barataria Bay — Seventy miles west of the mouth of the 
Mississippi, with a channel ten feet deep and capable of easy 
defense, this bay offered through a number of connected bayous 
and the canals on the west bank a communication with the 
river immediately opposite the city. This line was difficult 
and a block house with a few cannon at a point called "The 
Temple" would, it was thought, make it secure.' 

When Jackson assumed command of the seventh district, the 
defenses of New Orleans were much neglected. At Fort St. 
Plulip were twenty-eight heavy guns, twenty four-pounders; 
and there was a battery at English Turn, designed for nine 
pieces, but its platforms, magazines, and barracks were un- 
jSnished. Fort St. John, at the mouth of the bayou of the same 
name, was also designed for nine pieces, but only four of them 
were mounted and the place was in charge of a subaltern with 
twenty men. Another small fort on Lake Pontchartrain was 
at Petites Coquilles, in such a state of decay that it would 
take 60 men two months to make it defensible.' 

The forces in the city and its dependencies in July included 
120 men in the city barracks, 95 in Fort St. Charles — an old 
and useless fort well surrounded by the houses of the citi- 
zens — the 44th regiment numbering 337, and 128 men in gar- 
rison at St. PhUip. In all, there were 680 men, of whom at 
least 208 were not present for duty.' Beside these the 7th 

iThis description and enumeration of approaches to the city are talcen from the letter which the com- 
mittee of citizens of New Orleans appointed September 14, 1814, sent to Jackson and which is preserved in 
the Jackson Mss. 

'McRea to Jackson, September g and ig, and October 30, 1814; Schamburg and Morgan to Jackun, 
October 31, and WoUenstonecraft to Jackson, September 37, 1814, Jackson Mss. But the report of the 
last mentioned does not quite agree with McRea's or with itself. 

•See Monthly Report for July, Jackson Mss. 


regiment, was at Tchifonte with 465 men and at the request of 
McRea it was added to the force in the city.' New Orleans 
was a naval station under the command of Commodore Daniel 
T. Patterson. His effective force was six gunboats and one 
schooner and these were short of sailors." The fleet had long 
been blockaded by the British ships at the mouth of the 
Mississippi, which also kept in the river a large number of 
trading vessels. Vast quantities of supplies and of cotton 
and sugar, the accmnulation of two years of blockade, were 
also in the city. It was not so easy for the enemy to close 
the entrance to Lake Borgne and out of it small ships were 
accustomed to escape with cargoes for Pensacola. 

In the beginning of the campaign serious fears were felt for 
the loyalty of the French and Spanish population in Louisiana. 
Governor Claiborne, of that state, himself said as much to 
Jackson in the middle of August.' But a month later he was 
able to report that sentiment was changing and that the people 
seemed to be rallying to the call for troops.' This change of 
sentiment was probably due to the early successes of the Ameri- 
cans, their active appeals to the natives, and the allegation, 
always repeated and by many believed, that the British in- 
tended to arm the slaves against their masters.' So fast did 
the revival of interest proceed that, by November 20th, 1,000 
of the state's militia and some hundreds of volunteers were in 
the field from Louisiana.' From La Fourche southward each 

'McRea to Jackson, September 19 and October 12; also Monthly Repnrl of the 7th regiment, December 
23, 1S14, Jackson Mss. 

'Claiborne to Jackson, November 4, 1S14, Jackson Mss. 

'Colonel Frangois CoUiel, a prominent Creole, was discovered sending a Spanish ofBcer at Pensacola a 
description of the defenses of New Orleans and expelled from Louisiana. But Colliel gave it as his 
opinion that if Jackson appeared with enough forces to command public confidence the people would 
support him. See Colliel to Morales, October 10; Claiborne to Jai.kson,October 28,rand November 4, 1814, 
Jackson Mss. 

'Claiborne to Jackson, August 16, September jo, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

•Claiborne to Jackson, August 16 and ao, September 20, October 24, 1814; also J. Smith to Jackson, August 
30, 1814, Jackson Mss. See also Gayarre, History of Louisiana, IV., 341-348. 

"Claiborne to Jackson, November ao, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


bank of the river was settled by rich sugar planters. In this 
region there were said to be twenty-five slaves for each white 
person,' and the proportions in other parts of the state were 
not much smaller. In view of the fears m regard to the slaves 
it was not to be expected that a more general response should 
be made by the population.' Nevertheless, the sensitiveness of 
the legislature in their relations with Jackson indicates that 
there was ever a little hesitation in the minds of the people. 

It was August 27th, when Jackson at Mobile learned that 
NichoUs was at Pensacola announcing himself the herald of a 
great expedition which should take Louisiana. The information 
was soon in New Orleans, and urgent letters were sent to the 
commander of the district requesting him to go to the city. 
He steadily refused: he would go to the Mississippi, he said, in 
good time, when the defenses of Mobile were satisfactory and 
not sooner. "My whole force," he said impatiently, "would 
not satisfy the demands they [the people of New Orleans] make.'" 

Meantime, he placed Lieutenant-Colonel McRea in com- 
mand of the city and ordered him to put the forts in the best 
possible condition of defense. McRea was soon in conflict 
with the commandant of Fort St. Philip, who refused either 
to obey him or to cooperate. Jackson promptly placed aU the 
troops in Louisiana under the command of the lieutenant- 
colonel and there was harmony in the place. But he needed 
for New Orleans an officer of higher rank and reputation, and 
he asked the secretary of war to send him one. In compliance 
with the request Brigadier-General Edmund Pendleton Gaines 
was ordered to New Orleans,' but he proceeded so slowly that 
he did not arrive there until February 4, 1815. Jackson also 
sent his inspector-general to examine the works around the 

iNew Orleans committee to Jackson, September is, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

sin 181X, there wan a negro insurrection in Louisiana and the memory of its terror was fresh in the minds 
of the people. Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 266. 
"Jackson to secretary of war, October 10, 1S14, Jackson Mss. 
'Jackson to iecretary of war, August 2$; Monroe to Jackson, December 7, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


city. The reports of that officer showed that strengthening the 
fortifications was going forward as rapidly as possible with 
the slender resources of the district and the confused state of 
the local authority. Had Jackson himself been there he could 
hardly have done more than was done. 

While these orders were being executed, a part of the force 
at New Orleans was used to suppress the lawless Baratarians, 
with whose immunity from arrest the governor of Florida so causti- 
cally reproached Jackson. These men had the technical status 
of privateers. They collected from various sources at the island 
of Guadaloupe and sailed as privateers under French licenses; 
but the capture of that island by the British in 1810, and the 
subsequent expiration of their licenses made it necessary for 
them to get other governmental authority. They turned to 
the newly proclaimed revolutionary republic of Cartagena, 
which gladly received such an accession of maritime strength 
and gave them new licenses. They had, however, to find a 
new rendezvous and place for the disposal of their prizes. They 
seized Barataria Bay, which was excellently situated for their 
purposes. On the island of Grande Terre, in this bay, they sold 
their captured ships and cargoes as freely as if the trade was 
unquestioned. Latour confesses with shame that planters and 
merchants of the best standing bought supplies and other goods 
there, sending them into the city or parishes without paying 
import duties. "The frequent seizures made of those goods," 
says he, "were but an ineffectual remedy of the evil, as the great 
profit yielded by such parcels as escaped the vigilance of the 
custom-house officers, indemnified the traders for the loss of 
what they had paid for the goods seized. . . . This trafl&c 
was at length carried on with such scandalous notoriety that 
the agents of govenmient incurred very general and open repre- 
hension, many persons contending that they had interested 
motives for conniving at such abuses, as smuggling was a source 


of confiscation from which they derived considerable benefit." 
The Baratarians received protection from a group of interested 
men in New Orleans, among whom was Edward Livingston, 
a brilliant but not too scrupulous lawyer who acted as their 
retained counsel. It was frequently charged that most of the 
ships had no commissions and were really pirates; but Latour, 
who has the advantage of contemporary knowledge at first 
hand, says this was never proved. He thinks all had licenses 
of some kind, though he is willing to admit that some papers 
may have been forged. Granting that all had commissions from 
Cartagena they were, under the interpretation of international 
law then in vogue,' technically pirates until the United States 
recognized the belligerency of that republic' Moreover, their 
presence in Barataria Bay was an offense against the neutrality 
obligations of the United States. Thus, there were three grounds 
on which they ought to have been suppressed. Governor 
Claiborne endeavored to drive them away. Several expeditions 
accomplished nothing but to force them into temporary flight 
with all their goods, and they returned when danger ceased.' 
Neither Wilkinson nor Flournoy showed a disposition to appre- 
hend them, but in Jackson they found a quick and determined 
foe, although it was to the navy that their final dispersion was 

The head of the Baratarians in 1814 was Jean Lafitte, French 
bom and formerly a New Orleans blacksmith, a man of courage, 
energy, and acknowledged leadership. Colonel Nicholls knew 
his capacity and sought to draw him into the British service. 
September 3, 1814, the sloop Sophia, Captain Lockyer in 
command, appeared before Grande Terre with letters from 

^Latour, Historical Memoir, 15. 

'Lawrence, Principles 0/ International Lav, section 132. 

■Rumor said they disposed of the crews of their prizes in genuine pirate fashion. Ross to Jackson, October 
ii, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
'Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., aSg, 501, 313, 370. 


NichoUs. Jean Lafitte and his followers were invited to join 
the British in the campaign against the Americans. To the 
former was offered a commission and to the latter assignments 
of land; but the freebooters must agree to distress the Spanish 
commerce no longer, to sell their ships to the British, and to 
obey the orders of the British admirals. It was demanded that 
Lafitte should restore the goods he had taken from the English, 
but, to save his pride, it is said, he received a verbal offer of 
$30,000 as a gratuity. This was not a bad bargain for Jean 
Lafitte, against whom the Americans were about to take action 
of quite another kind; but he thought he could make a better 
bargain elsewhere, and to gain time, refused to give a positive 
answer. He asked Lockyer to come again at the end of a fort- 
night, when he would accept the proposition — '/e serais tout 

a vous"' 

Lafitte was willing to give up his roving career, but he pre- 
ferred to trust himself in American hands. Much of his booty 
was of English origin, and he was not sure that an Englishman 
would keep a promise so liberally made. On the other hand, 
he had friends among the Louisianians, many of his followers 
were of American birth and sympathy, he knew that the South- 
west had no real scruples about the kind of warfare he was 
waging on Spanish subjects, and, more important still, he had 
a brother in a New Orleans prison on a serious charge and 
hoped by a reconciliation to get him released. He saw in Lock- 
yer's offer a means of rendering himself serviceable to the Ameri- 
cans. He sent copies of the Briton's letters to New Orleans 
and offered to surrender himself to Governor Claiborne if past 
offenses were forgiven. He offered to defend Barataria Bay 
against the enemy and asserted that he was so true to the gov- 
ernment that, if his offer was not accepted, he would sail away 
with his establishment rather than fight against the United 

'The original of Lafitte'a letter, September 4. 1814, m "t seems, is in the Jackson Mss. 


States. At this juncture, as he must have known, a body of 
regulars were about to be sent to disperse or capture his force, 
and it would be a shrewd turn if he could place himself and 
his accumulated booty under the protection of the American 
flag in time to avert the blow. 

The authorities in New Orleans, state and national, consid- 
ered his proposition a trick to gain time and its only effect 
was to hasten the departure of the regulars. Edward Living- 
ston, however, had good reason to know the truth in the com- 
munication and succeeded in convincing the ofl&cials and the 
people that the offer of NichoUs to Lafitte was evidence that 
the city was in danger. But it does not appear that he any 
more than Jackson suspected the overwhelming nature of the 
force which was about to be thrown against the city. 

September i6th, the American expedition was before Grande 
Terre. Lafitte did not stay to oppose it. With his best ships 
and most of his followers he escaped out of the bay, and the 
victors burned all the spoil which they could not take away. 
They captured eight small vessels, a number of prisoners whom 
they held for trial, a large amount of merchandise, 7,500 gun 
flints, and many of Lafitte's papers. Among the last was the 
reply to Lockyer, which the writer was careful not to send to 
New Orleans when he revealed the overtures made to him. Its 
apparent acceptance of the Englishman's ojSer now made an 
impression very unfavorable to the Baratarians.' A short 
time later news came that Lafitte was again on the coast and 
had headquarters at Cat Island, near the mouth of La Fourche, 
and that he was stUl engaged in smuggling. This did not tend 
to modify the wrath of the authorities; but he genuinely de- 
sired peace and continued to make overtures through Livings- 

1 Colonel Ross to Jackson, October 3, 1814, report of the capture of Lafitte's stronghold; WoUenstonecraft 
to Jackson, September 13; Lafitte to Lockyer, original French copy, September 4, 1814; Jackson Mss. La- 
fitte's correspondence, translated, and other matter of a similar nature is in Latour, Historical Memoir, Ap* 
pendix, numbers 4, 5, and 6. Also Jackson to Claiborne, September 30, and Jackson's comment on back of 
Monroe to Jackson, December 10, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


ton. He seems to have had no trouble with the state officials, 
but the cases against him were for smugghng, and the national 
ofl&cers were not so much incHned to leniency, probably because 
they were not so much affected by local influence. His friends 
were able to get the legislature to pass resolutions requesting 
the district attorney to abandon the cases if the pirates would 
agree to serve in the army.' The request was not granted by 
that officer; but later, after Jackson's arrival in the city, Lafitte 
sought an interview, coming to the place under a guarantee 
of safety from Judge Hall, of the federal court. Up to this 
time, Jackson would make no concessions to the lawbreakers, 
but he saw in the chief of the sea rovers a man of remarkable 
personality, brave, and filled with the war spirit. He was im- 
pressed, also, by his evident honesty and after the arrival of 
the British agreed to receive the Baratarians into the military 
service of the government.' Some of them formed a corps and 
in the defense of Jackson's lines below New Orleans served 
with great success batteries three and four. Others joined one of 
the three companies of marines and acquitted themselves well. 
The indictments against them were subsequently dropped. 
The Baratarians made a good impression on contemporaries. 
Latour, writing in 1816, speaks well of their loyalty." They 
add a touch of romance to the history of the day, and their 
story has been told with effect — probably with too much 
warmth — by many writers. 

The communication from Lafitte and other information 
from various sources convinced the people of New Orleans that 
their city was in danger. The place was filled with produce 
from the interior, accumulated through a two-years' blockade, 

'Copy of the resolutions in Jackson Mss. 

The Baratarians were on an island in the swamps' below Baton Rouge, when'Cofiee arrived on the Mis- 
sissippi, and he was anxious to take steps looking to their suppression. See Coffee to Jackson, December 
IS, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

•Claiborne to Jackson, September 20 and October 17, 1814; also resolutions of Louisiana legislature, without 
date; all in Jackson Mss. See also Gayane, Louisiana, IV., 356, 369, and 411-; Latour, Bislorical Memoir, ji. 


credits were swollen and continued to increase in expectation 
of the final day of liquidation, and specie, even for fractional 
currency, was extremely scarce. If the city should be seized 
many a fortune would collapse. Thus self-interest as weU as 
patriotism prompted the leading inhabitants to strive to beat 
off the danger. 

September i6th, a public meeting was called to promote the 
cause of defense. It was especially desired to arouse the sup- 
port of the native French population, about whose loyalty there 
was much doubt. Edward Livingston was, of all the prominent 
American residents, most influential with this class. He came 
forward prominently in the movements now about to be made 
and it proved to be an important step in his career. He intro- 
duced resolutions in the meeting of September i6th, pledging 
the state and city to their best exertions, and when a committee 
was appointed to carry out the will of the meeting he was made 
its chairman. In this capacity he came into correspondence 
with Jackson in MobUe, later became his aide,' and laid the 
foundation of a friendship which was destined to make him a 
member of the cabinet and foreign minister. 

Livingston's committee strove to arouse enthusiasm. It 
was appointed the day after Lawrence drove back the British 
ships at Fort Bowyer, and the news of that event gave support 
to its efforts. The old French population was divided in its 
sympathy between the Bourbons and Napoleon. Of the latter 
party were a number of persons who left France after the col- 
lapse of their leader earlier in the same year. One of them was 
General Humbert, who offered his services to Jackson. En- 
listments were stimulated and arguments were employed to 
convince the Creole planters that their interests demanded 

■Livingiton improved his opportunity as chairman of the committee to ask Jackson to give him the rank 
of aide. The latter declined because he did not approve of appointing an aide detached from headquarters 
and because he bad two already, the number allowed him by the govenmient. Jackson to Livingston, Sep- 
tember 30, October 23, 1814. 


American success. Much was made of the rumors that the 
British would stimulate a slave rising. Seconding these efforts 
came Jackson's proclamation of September 21st, written in 
exultation over the defeat of the British at Fort Bowyer. " Louis- 
ianians!" he exclaimed, "The proud Briton, the natural and 
sworn enemy of all Frenchmen, has called upon you by procla- 
mation to aid him in his tyranny, and to prostrate the whole 
temple of our liberty. Can Louisianians, can Frenchmen, 
can Americans ever stoop to be the slaves or allies of Britain!" 
Referring to the Baratarians he said: "Have they not made 
offers to the pirates of Barataria to join them, and their holy 
cause? And have they not dared to insult you by calling on 
you to associate, as brethren, with them and this hellish ban- 
ditti!'" Neither of these utterances was tactful. The Creoles 
resented the reference to slaves of the British, for it implied 
a reflection on the French government, to which they were at- 
tached; and there were many who did not like the uncouth 
words in which the Baratarians were denounced." 

Another class to whom Jackson appealed were the free Ne- 
groes, of whom the city held more than six hundred, and some 
of whom were wealthy. Under Spanish rule these people were 
called upon in times of trouble and served well. The Americans 
did not look favorably on such service, but allowed a smaU 
battaUon of them to continue its organization under Colonel 
Fortier and Major Lacoste, with colored men for company 
officers. August 11, 18 14, Governor Claiborne had an inter- 
view with these officers and found them faithful to the govern- 
ment. They suggested that all the free men of color in New 
Orleans be enlisted. The governor acquiesced and transmitted 
the suggestion to Jackson, who accepted the idea with en- 
thusiasm. "Our country," he said, "has been invaded and 

'Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendix, number i6. 

The French newspaper criticized it, and Gayarre supports the criticism, LouisitHa, IV., 3S4- 


threatened with destruction. She wants soldiers to fight her 
battles. The free men of color in your city are inured to the 
Southern climate and would make excellent soldiers. They 
will not remain quiet spectators of the interesting contest. 
They must be either for, or against, us. Distrust them and you 
make them your enemies, place confidence in them, and you 
engage them by every dear and honorable tie to the interest 
of the country, who extends to them equal rights and privileges 
with white men. I enclose you a copy of my address to them 
for pubhcation and wish an experiment made for raising a 
regiment of them.'" 

The proclamation was expressed in the warmest terms. 
"Through a mistaken policy," it ran, "you have heretofore 
been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for 
national rights in which your country is engaged. This no longer 
shaU exist. As sons of freedom you are now called upon to 
defend your most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your 
country looks with confidence to her adopted children, for a 
valorous support, as a faithfid return for the advantages en- 
joyed under her mild and equitable government. As fathers, 
husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to raUy round the 
standard of the eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence." 
To such as should volunteer were offered the regular bounties 
— 1 60 acres of land and $124 in cash — and the regular pay, 
rations, and clothing of a soldier. They were to be conmianded 
by white commissioned, and colored non-commissioned, officers.' 

This liberal attitude toward the Negroes brought out the 
opposition of those inhabitants of Louisiana who believed that 
repression rather than confidence was the best policy to be pur- 
sued with regard to these people. They protested against put- 
ting arms into their hands, saying that it would render them 

>See Jackson to Claiborne, September 21, 1814, Jackson Mss. Also Gayaiie, LouUiafM, TV., }iS- 
'I.atour, Bistorical Memoir, Appendix, number 17. 


insubordinate in times of peace and give them an undesirable 
acquaintance with the art of war, and they declared that the 
free Negroes were especially disloyal. All these objections 
were laid before Jackson, but he did not relent.' The battaUon 
under Lacoste was enlarged and drilled, and when Jackson 
arrived on December ist, it paraded before him by the side of 
the uniformed companies of the city and won his special com- 
mendation.' Later it served with credit in the operations against 
the British. Another battalion was organized from the Santo 
Domingo Negroes, of whom a large number were in the city 
as refugees from the British. It numbered 210 men and was 
mustered into service a few days before the landing of the enemy.' 
Under Major Daquin it did excellent service in the night battle 
of December 23d, and on Jackson's lines. 

The assistant district paymaster was one of those who did 
not approve of enlisting Negro and Indian troops, and he ques- 
tioned Jackson's authority to have them in the service. What 
else he said does not appear; but he received a letter from 
Jackson which reduced him to submission in short order. It 

Be pleased to keep to yourself your Opinions upon the policy 
of making payments to particular Corps. It is enough for 
you to receive my order for the payment of the troops with 
the necessary muster rolls without inquiring whether the troops 
are white, Black, or Tea. You are not to know whether I 
have received authority from the War Department to employ 
any particular description of men, and will, upon the receipt 
of this make payment of the Choctaws upon the muster rolls 
of Major Blue.' 

Another source of friction between Jackson and the Louisi- 

'Claibome to Jackson, October 17 and 24; Jackson to Claiborne, October 21 1814, Jackson Mss. 
•Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendix, number 20. 
'Jackson to Claiborne, December 18, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
•Jackson to W. Allen, December 23. 1814, Jackson Mss 


anians came from attempts to export provisions from the city 
to Pensacola, where prices rose with the approach of the British. 
As soon as Jackson knew that the enemy was bound for that 
place he gave strict orders that no vessels laden with food be 
allowed to pass through the lakes. Nevertheless, there were 
merchants in New Orleans who, it was reported, evaded the 
law daily, and Jackson, hearing of it, directed that the ship- 
owners and captains concerned be arrested and tried by mili- 
tary law. He spoke with a feeUng of chagrin, and his orders 
were executed with precision. The only relaxation he would 
make was that vessels bound for Mobile might sail if they gave 
bond in approved security that their cargoes should be landed 
in that place. So effective was the embargo that Pensacola 
in December, appealed to him in the name of humanity to 
let enough rice, flour, and other food be sent thither to keep 
the inhabitants from starvation.' The incident served to in- 
crease Jackson's distrust of the people of New Orleans and con- 
tributed to the friction which later arose between civil and 
military authorities. 

Another source of anxiety came from the chaotic political 
conditions. Claiborne, the governor, was honest, patriotic, 
and industrious, but he lacked tact and the power to make him- 
self obeyed. He had, also, many enemies who opposed him in 
the press and defeated his recommendations when they could, 
in the legislature. Late in 1813, the United States government 
withdrew one regiment of the scant force at New Orleans, and 
Flournoy asked the governor to caU out 1,000 militia for six 
months to fill their places, chiefly in the garrisons around New 
Orleans. Claiborne complied, sending out his call on Decem- 
ber 25th. Four hundred men from the counties adjacent to 
Baton Rouge and in the eastern part of the state, mostly of 

■Jackson to Claiborne, August 30; to McRea, October 14; to Patterson, October 14, McRea to Jackson 
September 3, 0. ^', October 11, 17, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


Anglo-American stock, came down to the city for duty. But 
the inhabitants of New Orleans and of the river banks south of 
Baton Rouge refused to respond. They alleged that there was 
no need of their services; and it was, in fact, not usual to call the 
militia out for garrison duty unless there was grave imminent 
danger. Claiborne referred the matter to the legislature, but his 
opponents there were able to defeat resolutions in support of his 
position. The up-country militia offered their services to force 
their brethren of the city to perform their duty, but the governor 
was too wise to precipitate a civil war and declined the 
offer. The spring and siunmer of 18 14 were passed in 
apathy, and the governor was deeply discouraged. But 
his chagrin was not entirely justified. When it be- 
came evident that there was real danger from an enemy, 
it was no longer possible for his opponents to convince 
the people that they need not take up arms. They did not 
now oppose a call for the militia, but were satisfied to tie the 
hands of the executive in other ways. They supported a 
spirit of dissatisfaction which left room to doubt the loyalty 
of the state, although it is not likely that the suspicion was well 
founded. One result was the appointment of a legislative 
committee on the war which, with the citizen cormnittee, was a 
source of confusion. Another was to prolong the session of 
the censorious assembly which was called to secure funds for 
defense and not to sit in judgment on the conduct of the 

Thus Louisiana, against which more than 10,000 troops 
were about to be hurled, passed through the months of August, 
September, and November, slowly calling out its militia, re- 
pairing its fortifications, and putting its house in order for 
the shock of battle. The well-intentioned Claiborne could not 
bring unity to its discordant population; but riding during 
these last days of the dull autumn along the road from Mobile 


to New Orleans was a horseman who had both the will and 
the power to silence opposition and to concentrate the resources 
of the place in the single process of saving it from the hands of 
the invader. 


•"-!M!S ■■■- 


In 1814, Admiral Cochrane commanded the British fleet in 
American waters, and his chief duty was to supervise the blockade. 
In the spring, he was ordered to make observations along the 
coast of the Gulf of Mexico with a view to operations in Louisi- 
ana. In the summer he reported that 3,000 men with the co- 
operation of the Indians and discontented natives, could take 
Mobile and New Orleans. His language indicates that he had 
in mind an expedition through Mobile, which was also Jackson's 
conception of the military problem from the invader's stand- 
point. The English ministry were not so sanguine as Cochrane. 
In the expedition which they were about to send forth they 
engaged three times the troops suggested by the admiral and 
adequate naval protection. The army was drawn from several 
quarters. Ross's force which was operating against Washington 
and Baltimore made a part, and as a reward for his success in 
that service Ross was given command of the whole movement. 
Other troops were sent from Ireland and France, and some black 
regiments from the West Indies because they were believed to 
be adapted to the climate and to other conditions in Louisiana. 
The death of Ross before Baltimore made no change in the plans, 
except that the chief command was assigned to Lieut.- 
Gen. Sir Edward Pakenham, a man of recognized ability 
and brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington. He was sent 
out in haste to overtake the expedition before it came to its 
destination, but in that he was not successful. He arrived on 
the shores of Louisiana, December 25th, after the advanced 



stages of the attack were passed. Under him served Major- 
Generals Gibbs, Keane, and Lambert, all men of tried courage 
and experience, Keane being in command till the coming of 

The leader was instructed to proceed from Jamaica, the 
point of rendezvous, on November 20th, directly to New Or- 
leans or indirectly through Mobile, as he saw fit. He was 
informed that the object of the expedition was to command the 
mouth of the Mississippi and by holding it to be in a position 
"to exact its cession as a price of peace." He was instructed 
to conciUate the native Louisianians, to assist them with arms 
and provisions, to organize them into military bodies, and to 
encourage them to commit themselves by an overt act against 
the United States. He was not to allow them to think that they 
would become permanent subjects of England, or an independent 
state; but to lead them to beKeve that they would return to 
the Spanish allegiance. He was also "by no means to excite 
the black population to rise against their masters"; since the 
whole Creole element, who were slaveholding in interests, would 
be repelled if they beheved that an insurrection of slaves was 

Jackson's earhest intimation of this danger was received 
on August 27th, in Mobile, and was contained in letters from 
Pensacola announcing the arrival of Colonel NichoUs at that 
place. The boasts, proclamations, and other proceedings of 
this faithful courier showed that something serious was planned 
by his superiors, but all evidence pointed to Mobile as the point 
of initial attack. This coincided with Jackson's view. "Area! 
miUtary man," he said, "with a full knowledge of the geography 
of that and this country [the surroundings of Mobile and New 
Orleans] would first possess himself of that point, draw to 

■Glbbs arrived with Pakenham. 

•Adams, History of Untied SlaUs, VIII., 315. 


his standard the Indians, advance by way of Fort Stephens, 
and march direct to the Walnut Hills, and by a strong establish- 
ment there and being able to forage on the country, he could 
support himself, cut off all suppUes from above, and make this 
country [Louisiana] an easy conquest.'" This opinion, given 
February 18, 181 5, before controversy arose on the point, ex- 
presses Jackson's conception of the miUtary situation from the 
British standpoint. It was also his opinion on December 10, 
1814, when the British were concentrating off Cat Island, and 
he avowed it in a letter to the secretary of war.' Fort Stephens 
was on the lower Tombigbee, the Walnut Hills were the site 
of the present city of Vicksburg, and the intervening country 
was sparsely settled. The difficulty of supporting a force of 
several thousand men through this region was much underrated 
by Jackson. 

The rumors from Pensacola reached Washington in due time 
and Monroe, secretary of war, forwarded them to Mobile with 
confirmatory information from other sources. Ten years later 
Jackson's political opponents charged that he loitered too long 
in Mobile, and that it was only Monroe's insistency that finally 
drove him out, just in time to save New Orleans. The truth 
is, Jackson took his own time at Mobile and left it entirely of 
his own volition. Moreover, all his advice from the secretary 
up to October 30th, was to the effect that the enemy would 
attack through that place. The remoteness of his situation and 
the confusion then existing in the war department left him 
largely to his own resources, and his is the credit or blame for 
the results. 

It was late in September when the government became con- 
vinced that Louisiana was in danger. At once Monroe sent out 
calls for militia to the governors of Kentucky, Georgia, and 

'J»ck»on to Monroe, February i8, iSis. Jackson Mss. 
HuJuaa ia Mcuiuv ot wax, December lo, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


Tennessee. From the first and second he required 2,500 men 
respectively, and from the third 5,000 in addition to the 2,500 
which were called out in the preceding July for garrisons in the 
Creek country. Jackson was informed of these requisitions 
and wrote letters seconding them.' 

The response was generous. Kentucky, although she had 
contributed liberally to the war in the Northwest, sent 2,228 
men under General Adair." Georgia sent an equal number 
under General Mcintosh. Tennessee sent 2,800 mounted men 
under General Coffee, something less than two thousand infantry 
from the eastern counties under General Taylor, and as many 
more from the west — by way of the Mississippi — under General 
Carroll. Mississippi Territory furnished a battalion under 
Major Hinds 150 strong, and the Louisiana militia, including 
the volunteer organizations in New Orleans, furnished nearly 
three thousand." Jackson's total force was a little more than 
fourteen thousand miUtia and 2,378 regulars. Of these he left 
all the Georgia and East Tennessee militia with nearly two 
thousand regulars and riflemen to protect Mobile and its 
surroundings. The remainder, about eleven thousand five 
hundred, he ordered to concentrate at New Orleans; and on 
November 2 2d, with a small escort, he started for that city. 
He rode dehberately, in order to inspect the approaches to the 
city. His judgment was that it was impossible for a hostile army 
to move from Mobile to New Orleans by the direct land route. 

^Monroe to Jackson, September 27, and October 10, 1814; Monroe to Governor Blount, September 25, 
1814; Jackson Mss. 

aSmith, Battle 0/ New Orleans (Filson Club Publishers), 179-202, where the muster rolls are given. 

3In the summer of i8i4,the secretary of war called for one thousand detached Louisiana militia to serve 
six months. November 20, Claiborne reported that they were raised and with others brought the total num- 
ber of Louisianians in the field up to twelve hundred: Claiborne to Jackson, November 5 and 20, 1H14, 
Jackson Mss. The San Domingo Negroes, Baratarians, and others mustered in before December 23, brought 
the number to at least sixteen hundred. When the British arrived the whole body of the state's militia was 
called out and by the end of December they were arriving in force. From the thirtieth until the fourth of the 
next month, the total accessions were twelve hundred, and many others came after the battle of the eighth. 
See Col. Robert Young to Jackson, January i, 1815; Claiborne to Jackson, January 7, 1815, Jackson Mss. 
Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 450, 458; Latour, Eistorical Memoir, 304. Most of the Louisiana militia were with- 
out aims. 


When he left Mobile he still entertained the impression 
that it would be attacked. Three of his five regiments of regu- 
lars were ordered to garrison it, and the horse, under Coffee 
and Hinds, were stationed in such positions that they could easily 
be called back if needed. The first of these ofi&cers was sent 
to the neighborhood of Baton Rouge, forage being scarce in 
New Orleans; the second, commanding the Mississippi dragoons, 
except the company which was with Blue, was placed midway 
between the two cities so that he might be called to either at 
a moment's notice. 

Cooperating with the army was a smaU naval force under 
Master-Commander Daniel Todd Patterson, a man of energy 
and good judgment.' It consisted of six of the gunboats which 
marked President Jefferson's policy of naval defense, and a 
number of smaller vessels. One of the gunboats was sent to 
Fort St. Philip, on the Mississippi,' and the others, five in num- 
ber, were on Lake Borgne, to protect the city from an approach 
from that quarter and to keep open the inland water communi- 
cations with Mobile. The gunboats were small. The five 
on Lake Borgne carried a total of twenty-three guns and 
182 men. Besides these there were two vessels- -a schooner, 
the Carolina, and a ship, the Louisiana — in the river before 
New Orleans. At Tchifonte, on Lake Pontchartrain, was an 
uncompleted flat-bottom frigate built to carry forty-two guns.' 
Work on it was stopped some months earher, probably by the 
advice of Flournoy; and although both Jackson and Patterson 
urged that it be resumed, nothing was done in that direc- 
tion. The vessel was now worse than useless; for it was neces- 
sary to send the ^tna, a brig much needed elsewhere, to 

'The historians generally, even Latour, who was a military man and wrote in 1816, speak of Patterson as 
"commodore"; but his rank was master-commander, one grade lower than a naval captain. The rank 
of commodore was not created in America until 1862 and is a grade higher than that of captain. Jackson 
and other contemporaries call him "commodore." 

*Latour, Historical Memoir, 74. 

•latour aays forty-two; Reid and Eaton forty-four. Latour seems more reliable under the circiunstances. 


Tchif onte to protect the frigate, which was nearly ready for its 

It was in the morning of December ist, that Jackson entered 
New Orleans, passing down the streets to the residence of a 
rich merchant where the governor, Master-Commander Patter- 
son, and others waited to welcome him. The people of the 
city had heard much of his military achievements. To most 
of them a great general was distinguished in appearance, after 
the fashion of the recent French and Spanish ofl&cials. They 
were surprised and somewhat disappointed when there appeared 
a tail and emaciated figure, showing signs of recent severe 
illness, with a clean shaven and sallow face, and sandy hair 
just beginning to gray under his forty-seven years. He was 
clothed in a well-worn leather cap, a short Spanish cloak of old 
blue cloth, and great unpoUshed boots whose vast tops swayed 
uneasily around his bony knees. But his eyes were cool and 
penetrating, his mouth was always firm and in repose gentle, 
and his carriage was grave, dignified, and suggestive of mastery 
of self and of others. When they first saw him the people 
were disappointed. He seemed only another of the frontier flat- 
boatmen, of whose uncouthness they knew rather too much. 
But when they saw him and heard him speak their disappoint- 
ment became enthusiasm. AH accounts agree that he won the 
sympathy of the people of New Orleans on that first day of 
his visit. After the weU-intentioned governor made his prolix 
speech of welcome, and after the general delivered his reply 
and heard it translated by Edward Livingston into French 
for the benefit of the Creoles he turned to business. First he 
reviewed the city militia composed of the uniformed com- 
panies under Major PIauch6 and the battaHons of free men of 
color under Majors Lacoste and Daquin, comphmenting both 
on their soldierly appearance. Then he went to dinner with 
Livingston, where he met a company of fashionable ladies and 


charmed them by his grave deference and natural courtesy. 
Rising from the table, he hurried off to meet his chief engineers 
and with them went carefully and exhaustively over the plans 
of the defenses. Two days later he began a tour of inspection, 
going first down the river as far as Fort St. Philip, where it was 
planned to give the enemy the initial check on this Une of ap- 
proach. He ordered two auxiliary batteries to be constructed 
to strengthen it and rode back to the city six days after he 
set out examining every mile of the way carefully. At once 
he departed for a similar inspection of the lake shore. At Chef 
Menteur, at the head of Lake Borgne, he ordered a new battery 
to be placed as additional protection to the GentiUy road. His 
quick and spirited manner of taking up the business before him 
made an excellent impression on the city, which for months 
had suffered from the confusion and the supineness of the au- 
thorities. It was not that he brought more technical skill to 
the situation — ^his orders were given by the advice of engineers, 
who were on the spot before his arrival. It was his mastery 
of the situation, through a forceful speech and a compelling 
will, which gave the people confidence and made them willing 
to obey his commands. 

From this inspection, he concluded that the enemy would 
come by the river, and he beHeved that when the defenses 
there were strengthened as he ordered they would be unas- 
sailable. A few days after his arrival on the Mississippi the 
British fleet began to come into Pensacola Bay, and information 
was promptly sent to New Orleans. When he returned to the 
city from his first trip of inspection he learned that their 
ships were beginning to anchor off Cat and Ship Islands, at 
the entrance of Lake Borgne. He considered this but a 
ruse to turn his attention from the river, and went on 
with his inspection of works: nor had he yet given up his 
opinion that the enemy aimed at Mobile and by a movement 


into the interior would seize the Mississippi and isolate New 

Writing to Coffee at his ease on December nth, he said: 
"Your position is a favorable one to cover Amite, and prevent 
the enemy from advancing through Lake Maurapa, and up the 
Manshock [the Manchac pass]. The vessels of the enemy has 
made their appearance on the coast near Ship and Cat Islands, 
and the Contractors Vessels on their voyage to Mobile has re- 
turned. I expect this is a faint, to draw my attention to that 
point when they mean to strike at another. However I will 
look at them there and provide for their reception elsewhere." 
And then forgetting for a moment the scenes around him and 
turning in his mind back to Tennessee, he says: No news from 
home "since I saw you except I see in the NashviUe Gazette 
that 'Packolett has beat the noted horse Doublehead with great 
ease.'" Then again to military matters: "Keep your brigade 
ready for service at a moment's notice; We may, or we may 
not, have a fandango with Lord HiU, in the Christmas hoUdays. 
If so you and your Brave followers must participate in the 

On the afternoon of the thirteenth,' while he was stUl in- 
specting on the lakes, news came to the city that the enemy's 
vessels at Cat Island were greatly augmented, that they were 
supplied with gun barges suitable for operations on the lakes, 
and that it was no longer to be doubted that they were about 
to land from their present anchorage. On the thirteenth, 
Jackson was within easy communication with the city and must 
have received Patterson's news by the morning of the fourteenth; 
yet he took no steps that day to call down his forces from the 

ijacison to secretary of war, December lo, 1814, Jackson Mss. 

sjackson to Coffee, December 11,1814, Jackson Mss. "Pacolet" belonged to Jackson, who had ordered 
that he should not be raced during the war. See James Jackson to Jackson, Nashville, November 27, 1814, 
Jackson Mss. The British ministry first intended to give the command of the expedition to General Lord 

^Latour, Historical Memoir^ 55. 


upper country. He seemingly remained convinced that the 
assemblage off Cat Island was a ruse, and if this surmise be 
true he was utterly at sea in regard to the situation, which was, 
in fact, very grave. Within the city were no more than 1,500 
armed men to be thrown against a landing party from the fleet, 
and the only means of checking a landing was the five gunboats 
on Lake Borgne. 

The situation hardly assumed this form when even the hope 
from the gunboats was destroyed. These vessels were ordered 
to avoid a struggle on the lake and meet the enemy at the south- 
ern extremity of the Rigolets; but on the thirteenth, while 
retreating from too venturesome an approach to his fleet, they 
found themselves pursued by a large mmiber of his barges. 
They sought to reach the designated spot, but becoming be- 
calmed on the morning of the fourteenth were forced to anchor 
in line of battle and receive the attack of the enemy. Against 
them were brought forty-three barges each carrying a cannon, 
and three smaller boats without such armament, all manned 
by 1,200 men. Unable to maneuver and feeling themselves 
doomed to capture, the Americans fought as well as they could 
until their commander was badly wounded and struck his flag. 
They lost forty-five, kiUed and wounded; and the British, 
ninety-five." The victors now had all the lake at their disposal. 
They seized the Isle aux Pois, east of the Rigolets, landed an 
advanced division on it, and explored the western shore of the 
lake for the best place to reach the environs of New Orleans. 

The gunboats were taken at noon on the fourteenth, and it 
was the afternoon of the next day when the news reached New 
Orleans, forty miles away. Jackson hastened from Chef Men- 
teur to the city. He was at last fully conscious of his danger, 
and from that moment he was all activity. A letter was hur- 

'The report of the American commander is in Latour, Historical Uetnoir, Appendix, number 19; that of the 
British commander is in James, liilitan Occurrences, II, S33. 


riedly sent to Coffee, twenty miles north of Baton Rouge, order- 
ing him to march day and night till he reached headquarters 
and charging him to send messengers with like orders to Carroll 
and Thomas higher up the river and to Hinds at WoodviUe, 
Mississippi. Coffee heard the news gladly. On the seventeenth 
at four o'clock in the morning he wrote that he would march 
at sunrise and would be in New Orleans in four days if all went 
well. He took 1,250 of his men with him, aU who were fit for 
duty, and in the early morning of the twentieth he arrived 
in New Orleans with 800 of them, leaving the others to foUow 
as fast as they could, having covered 135 miles in a few hours 
more than three days.' CarroU arrived on December 21st, 
and about the same time came Hinds with 100 dragoons. 

Jackson's problem was now to determine by which of the 
approaches from the lake the British would attempt to land. 
He concluded they would not try to pass Petites Coquilles with 
small boats, and this eliminated the idea of an approach by 
Lake Pontchartrain. He made another inspection of the shores 
of Lake Borgne and determined that they must come by Bayou 
Sauvage and Chef Menteur. This line of communication begins 
at the northern shore of the lake about fifteen miles from the 
Isle aux Pois and nine from the Rigolets. It leads through a 
marsh for ten miles, when the surrounding land becomes firm 
and opens into a plain around the village of Gentilly, five 
miles west of which was the city. It was on this elevated ground 
that Jackson expected to fight the battle. He sent thither aU 

lOf the two letters ordering Coffee down, one was from .Robert Butler, adjutant-general, and was probably 
written on the fourteenth, although dated the fifteenth, since it says the British fleet appeared off Cat Island 
in force on the preceding evening. It is improbable, also, that a letter dispatched on the fifteenth reached 
Coffee, one hundred and twenty miles away, by the morning of the sixteenth when, as we know, Coffee knew 
of Jackson's summons. (Of. John Hynes to Coffee, December t6, 1814, Jackson Mss.) The other letter 
was written by T. L. Butler, Jackson's aide, after the gunboats were known to be taken. Coffee called in 
his troopers and marched at dawn on the seventeenth. His command was much depleted by sickness and 
fatigue. His own letters to Jackson show that the story repeated by Reid and Eaton and by Jackson himself, 
that he marched to New Orleans in two days is erroneous. Cf. Coffee to Jackson, December 13, 17; Coffee 
to his contractors, December 16, 1814; and Jackson to Monroe, February 17, iSrs; Jackson Mss, and Reid 
and Eaton, Life oj Jackson, 3q, 


the troops he could spare, ordered additional redoubts and 
other works, and placed at the extremity of the line the bat- 
talion of free Negroes under Major Lacoste. Even after the 
foe landed elsewhere, he believed that they were attempting 
a ruse in order to divert his strength from Chef Menteur. He 
was as persistent in this notion as formerly in the belief that 
the assembling at Cat Island was a trick to deceive him; and 
he did not relinquish it till he saw three quarters of the British 
army actually before him on the Villere and adjacent plantations. 

One must approve every feature of the campaign of the 
British except their rash frontal attack on Jackson's lines on 
January 8th. Particularly skilful was their landing. Chef 
Menteur was too obvious: ten mUes west of it was the mouth 
of Bayou Bienvenue, which the British writers call Catalin. 
Through somebody's neglect it was not obstructed by fallen 
timber, although Jackson early gave strict orders to that end 
for aU bayous opening on the lakes. In this region the country 
between the river and the lake is of three kinds, high ground 
which borders the river and is a mile or less in width, cypress 
swamp lying east of that about three miles wide, and stiU east- 
ward a belt of trembling marsh called locally "prairies." The 
first of these belts is cultivated, and through it pass drainage 
canals which empty into the sinuous water courses in the swamps, 
which collecting into larger main chaimels make into the bayous. 
From the mouth of Bayou Bienvenue one may pass by a large 
tributary to the entrance of a canal which drains the Villere 
plantation, lying on the river about nine miles from the city. 
The Bayou Bienvenue, therefore, offered a safe communication 
with the high ground adjoining the river at a point near New 
Orleans. ViUere's with the adjacent plantations offered a 
wider space of solid ground than that which bordered the Chef 
Menteur road. This space was to be the field of the battle. 

Near the mouth of Bayou Bienvenue was a village of twelve 


huts occupied by Spanish and Portuguese fishermen. These 
people proved traitors and came to an understanding with 
the British soon after the arrival of the fleet off Ship Island. 
On December 20th, they brought two English ofl&cers to their 
village, carried them up the bayou and canal tiU they were able 
to take a drink of water from the Mississippi. Their report 
pleased their superiors and no time was lost in hurrjdng on the 

On the twenty-first the Americans sent a picket of twelve 
men in one boat to the Spanish village. They found most of 
the inhabitants absent, spent that day and the next in watching 
the waters of the lake for signs of the enemy, and on the night 
of the twenty-second slept in fancied security with only one 
sentinel posted. Some time after midnight he heard a noise 
and awakened his comrades. In the dim moonlight they 
could make out five barges fuU of armed men, coming up the 
bayou. Not daring to fire on so many men they hid behind 
a house till the barges passed. Then they tried to get away 
in their boat by way of the lake in order to give information 
to the city. In their haste they attracted the attention of the 
intruders and all except one were seized. He after three days' 
wandering through the swamps found his way to Chef Menteur. 
The prisoners, on being questioned, assured their captors that 
there were 18,000 men in New Orleans and at the English Turn. 
The effect was to hasten the movement of the attacking party, 
and by four o'clock on the morning of the twenty-third the 
whole advanced division consisting of 1,688 rank and file were 
at the point where ViUere's canal emptied into the bayou, three 
and a half miles from the Mississippi. Landing in the cane- 
brakes they rested for six hours and then resumed their journey. 
After an hour's marching through the soft soil on the banks 
of the canal they came to firmer ground. Stunted cypresses 
met their eyes, then orange trees appeared, and pushing through 


these they found open fields of cane stubble beyond which at 
a distance of from eight hundred to a thousand yards were 
the waters of the Mississippi. On the tilled plain were the 
houses of General Villere's plantation, and in them was a com- 
pany commanded by his son, a major of miUtia. With a sudden 
dash these were surrounded and the militia captured, although 
Major Villere escaped by leaping out of a window and rushing 
to the river, where he found a boat in which he'reached the 
opposite bank. When this was done it was about noon. 

Villere's plantation was on the pubhc road leading to New 
Orleans and many other estates were near it, but all this move- 
ment, from midnight till noon, was without the opposition, or 
even the knowledge, of the Americans. The responsibility was 
primarily Major Villere's, who failed to guard the bayou prop- 
erly; but it was shared by Jackson, who ought not to have 
left so important a place in the hands of militia without ade- 
quate supervision by a trained ofl&cer. Up to this moment 
Jackson was hardly master of the situation. His military 
genius was of the kind that does one thing splendidly, hurling 
into it with superhuman energy both himself and all who were 
under him. It was not of the kind that organizes weU and 
manages the most complex situation through mastery of details. 
It is interesting to think what would have happened had the 
British met Jackson in some open country where there was 
opportunity for maneuvering. 

WhUe the enemy made this advance to the Mississippi there 
was confusion and hurry in the city. Not knowing just where 
the blow would fall, it was, nevertheless, understood that it 
would be a severe one and that the most extraordinary efforts 
were necessary to sustain it. Both the governor and the gen- 
eral were apprehensive of the legislature. The city was believed 
to be fuU of British agents, and it was feared that they might 
persuade the assembly to take some ill-advised steps toward 


submission. Claiborne, in order to meet the emergency, took 
the unusual step of asking the legislature to adjourn itself for 
two or three weeks. The reply was not surprising: the assem- 
bly saw many reasons why it should continue to sit and it would 
not disperse. Then Jackson declared martial law in the fol- 
lowing words:' 

Major-General Andrew Jackson, commanding the Seventh 
United States military district, declares the city and environs 
of New Orleans under strict martial law, and orders that in 
future the following rules be rigidly enforced, viz. Every indi- 
vidual entering the city will report at the adjutant-general's 
oflfice, and on failure to be arrested and held for examination. 

No person shall be permitted to leave the city without a 
permission in writing signed by the general or one of his staff. 

No vessels, boats or other crafts, will be permitted to leave 
New Orleans or Bayou St. John, without a passport in writing 
from the general or one of his staff,, or the commander of the 
naval forces of the United States on this station. 

The street lamps shall be extinguished at the hour of nine 
at night, after which time persons of every description found 
in the streets, or not at their respective homes, without per- 
mission in writing, as aforesaid, and not having the counter- 
sign, shall be apprehended as spies and held for examination. 

Robert Butler, 

December i6, 1814. 

This step was supported by a ringing proclamation, in which 
Jackson warned the citizens that there were spies in their midst 
and called for aid in arresting them. 

In the meantime, the summoned troops were hastening to 
the danger point, Carroll making the best time. All the way 
down the river in flat-bottomed boats he drilled his men as well 
as he could, so that when they arrived on the twenty-first, 

"Nilei, Register, VII., JI7. 


they were not quite so raw as they would have been but for this 
foresight. They brought reinforcements to the number of 2,500. 
The Baratarians were sent out to their posts, the Louisiana 
militia, the uniformed companies of the city, and the free men 
of color in their two battalions — all were distributed at points 
believed to be threatened; many of them to the east of the city 
along the road to Chef Menteur, some others in the city itself 
where they could be used for emergency, and some others in the 
outlying posts. None of them were on the road which led from 
New Orleans to Villere's plantation. 

We have fortunately a letter from Jackson to one of his most 
intimate friends, Col. Robert Hays, of NashviUe, which 
shows what grasp the writer had on the military situation at 
the moment when Keane's troops were pushing through the 
cane brakes along Villere's canal. The letter runs: 

Sir: Before this reaches you, you will have heard of the 
capture of our gunboats on the lakes, since which the British 
has made no movement of importance. The Fort at Petit 
CocquH, they have not yet attacked. That is the only Barier 
between them and the entire peaceful possession of the lakes. 
They are said to be in great force. The citizens of this place, 
since my arrival, has displayed a great show of ardor, and una- 
nimity. Genl. Coffee and Genl. Carroll have both arrived then- 
Troops in good health for the cHmate and in high spirits, and 
have a hope should the British effect a landing at any point, 
I will be able to check them. The Kentuckians has not reached 
me, neither have I heard from them. I have not received a 
letter or paper from Tennessee since the last of October. I am 
anxious to know whether Mrs. Jackson has sailed from Nash- 
ville' under the expectation that she has, has been the reason 
why I have not wrote her. If she is still at home say to her 
the reason I have not wrote her, and say to her and my little 
son god bless them. I am more than anxious to see them. 

'Mn. Jackson wa» pieparing to join her husband at headquarters when she learned that the British bad 
landed, and on that account, she deferred her visit. 


I send you for your perusal the orders and address to the citi- 
zens of this place. I hope under every circumstance, and let 
what will happen, you will hear that I have done my duty. 
All well.'" 

The ink of this letter was hardly dry before travel- stained 
fugitives began to arrive at headquarters with the news that 
the foe was going into camp eight miles away. It was then 
1 130 in the afternoon of December 23d. Immediately orders 
were issued to send as many troops as possible down the river 
road to face the enemy's position. If Jackson was at sea when 
expecting the British landing, now that they were before him 
and his problem was reduced to the simple task of meeting 
them on the field, he became the incarnation of energy. His 
decision was taken instantly. When the messenger finished 
telHng of the arrival at Villere's the general turned to some 
ofi&cers and said, "Gentlemen, the British are below: we must 
fight them to-night." Coffee, Plauch6 commanding the uni- 
formed companies, Daquin with the battalion of St. Domingo 
Negroes, the 7th and 44th regulars, and Hinds's dragoons 
with two field-pieces, were assembled on the river road south 
of the city and hurried forward, Coffee's troops in the van. 
Commander Patterson was asked to send any available vessels 
down the river to cooperate in the proposed attack. Comply- 
ing he embarked on the schooner Carolina and dropped down to a 
position opposite the British camp, the ship Louisiana following. 
They numbered, by the American reports, besides the men on 
the Carolina, 2,131. General Morgan, commanding a body 
of Louisiana militia, at English Turn — south of Villere's — 
was directed to create a diversion during the night from that 

About sunset the British advanced post noticed a body of 

ijackson to Colonel Robert Hays, December 33, 1814, Jackson Mss. 





Dec. 23, 1814 to lin. a, ISIS 


two hundred horse approaching on the road from the north. 
A part of them came within a hundred yards and wheeling in 
excellent form rode away; but one squadron charged with great 
boldness up to the picket and did not retire till it had received 
a volley with fatal effect. An English ofi&cer who was present 
gives us the following interesting statement of the impression it 
made on his comrades: 

This was the first occasion, during the course of our Trans- 
Atlantic warfare, that the Americans had in any way ventured 
seriously to molest or threaten our posts, or shown the smallest 
disposition to act vigorously on the offensive. I carmot deny 
that it produced a curious effect upon us. Not that we experi- 
enced the smallest sensation of alarm. We held them in too much 
contempt to fear their attack; I question whether we did not 
wish that they would hazard one; yet we spoke of the present 
boldness, and thought of it too, as a meeting on which we had 
no ways calculated, and for which we could not possibly accoimt. 
It had not, however, the effect of exciting an expectation, that 
the attempt would be renewed, at least in force; and though 
we unquestionably looked upon our position, from that mo- 
ment, with a more cautious eve, we neither felt nor acted upon 
the supposition, that any serious danger would be incurred, 
till we ourselves should seek it.' 

This frank avowal of the contempt in which they held their 
opponents goes far to explain the defeat which awaited Paken- 
ham's soldiers. The force before them was unlike any other 
the British had met in America; but the difference was not 
so much due to the men as to the spirit infused into it by its 
leader. Jackson, by his personality, could have made in a 
short time a fighting machine out of any body of average 
American militia. 

The British troops went into camp on the river bank near 
the centre of Viller^'s plantation, at a point at which the levee 

>4 Svlallern <« Amsriea (1833 ed.), 3i». 


and public road make an angle. Half a mile north they 
stationed a strong advanced guard on the road from New Or- 
leans, which in all this region paralleled the river bank. Still 
farther in front they placed a picket guard on the river, and 
from this point a series of such guards was extended at an acute 
angle from the river till it reached the border of Viller^'s plan- 
tation two thirds of a mile away. Pickets were also placed on 
the batture, or exposed bed of the river between the water and 
the levee, which was from two hundred to three hundred 
and fifty yards wide. Their artillery consisted of only two 
imused three-pounders.' These arrangements made, the British 
felt safe from attack, and as the weather was cold great camp 
fires were lighted, which revealed their position plainly. 

Jackson was before thfe enemy by sunset on this short winter 
day. Giving Coffee command of 732 men, including his own 
dismounted riflemen, the Mississippi dragoons, and the Orleans 
Rifle Company, he ordered him to move to the left and fall on 
the enemy's front at a point midway between the advanced 
guard and the main body. The rest of the Americans were 
held in readiness in front of the advanced guard, who were in 
a position to be cut off from Keane's chief force and captured 
or cut to pieces. The Carolina and Louisiana were ordered 
to cooperate from the river, and the former did good service. ° 
The fire from these vessels was to be the signal for the general 

At seven o'clock the Carolina came up to the brink of the bat- 
ture in front of the British camp at a distance of three hundred 
yards. The invaders took her for a trading ship and crowded over 
the levee down to the water's edge to see what her business could 
be. Their brilliant camp fires behind them made them ex- 
cellent targets for the gunners, who suddenly opened fire. So 

'Gayarre Bistory of Louisiana, IV., 431. 

^he Louisiana could not be brought up in time to take part in the battle. 


great was the confusion that it was ten minutes before the 
British recovered themselves, seized their guns, and extinguished 
the fires. The schooner remained in her place and did so much 
damage during the engagement that the British were forced to 
keep well under the protection of the levee. 

Soon after the schooner opened fire, the main body of the 
Americans under Jackson began to move against the advance 
guard of the enemy. At a distance of one hundred yards the 
fighting became general and was well sustained on both sides. 
Blanche's battahon of uniformed companies and Daquin's bat- 
tahon of St. Domingo Negroes were assigned to a position on 
Jackson's left, but they were not able to come into it at the 
very beginning of the engagement. This left the American line 
shorter than that of the enemy, who tried to envelop it on his 
right flank. While the movement was progressing, he ran into 
Daquin first, and then Plauche, deplopng in the dark, received 
a shock from their cool and persistent attack, and falling back, 
carried the whole fine till it re-formed and stood again about 
three hundred yards in the rear of its first position. 

In the meantime. Coffee, his men dismounted and deploying 
to the left, came into the position assigned, and closed in behind 
the portion of the enemy who were engaged with Jackson. 
In doing so, he met and drove back to their camp some of the 
British who were thrown out in front of their main body. Keep- 
ing ever to the right, he approached the rear of the advanced 
guard, who were prudently falling back. Coffee concluded 
that in the darkness it would not be safe to get between them 
and the main body, especially as to do so would draw him 
pretty close to the line of fire from the Carolina. He contented 
himself with moving so far to his right as to pass this body on 
their right, and take position in front of them where he was 
content to await developments. 

It was now half-past nine, the fighting had continued for 


two hours, the enemy were heavily reinforced and on the alert 
for other attacks, and Jackson concluded that the affair had 
yielded all the advantage possible. He drew off his men to a 
position six hundred yards north of the enemy and across the 
road to New Orleans to await dayHght. The British spent the 
rest of the night in anxiety, posting double guards, and re- 
sponding to the slightest alarm. The Americans lost, by their 
own report, 24 killed, 115 wounded, and 74 missing. Among 
the slain was Colonel Lauderdale, of Coffee's Tennessee 
riflemen, a brave officer and a loyal supporter of his leader. 
The British reported a loss of 46 killed, 167 wounded, and 64 

The British writers speak of this action as an American de- 
feat. It is true that Jackson did not accomplish his announced 
purpose of driving the enemy from American soU; but he, 
nevertheless, achieved important results. The army acquired 
confidence in themselves and in their leader, they learned how 
to act together, and they lost some of their dread of British 
regulars. The British themselves found that they had before 
them another kind of opposition than they had met in America, 
with the result that they continued the advance slowly and 
cautiously and gave Jackson time to construct the fortifications 
without which Louisiana must have been lost. As a test of 
the superior fighting abihty of the two sides the engagement 
proved nothing. Until the arrival of reinforcements near the 
close of the fighting, Jackson was in superior strength, both from 
actual numbers and from the presence of the Carolina and two 
guns which were served down the road during the entire action. 
The British seem not to have brought into use the small guns 
which were landed with their advance division. 

The battle of the twenty-third proved what Jackson an- 

^Jackson's report of this action is in Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendixi number 25. For lossei see 
Ibid, No. 29. For the British report, see James, Military Occurrertces, II., 529 and 532. 


nounced to Coffee, a Christmas "fandango." It was an 
answer to a boast of the English admiral that he would eat 
his Christmas dinner in New Orleans. After it each side real- 
ized that there was serious fighting ahead, and each began to 
make the best preparations for a contest which would bring 
out its utmost strength. 



When Jackson was fighting the battle of December 23d, he 
was still uncertain about the plans of the enemy. He feared 
that Keane was attempting a ruse in order to draw the Ameri- 
cans to Villere's while the main body of the British landed at 
Chef Menteur and seized the city. Not daring, under these 
circiunstances, to take all his troops with him, he ordered Car- 
roll's 2,000 with three regiments of city militia to hold the 
road to Chef Menteur, at the eastern extremity of which La- 
coste was stationed with his battalion of city Negroes. In fact, 
Jackson suspected that Lacoste was already taken; but soon 
after the battle he had definite news from that officer, who 
reported that the main body of the enemy were passing his 
position and entering Bayou Bien venue. Convinced that no 
ruse was intended, Jackson at once ordered half of Carroll's 
force to his aid. His first impulse was to renew the fight at 
dawn, but on reflection he "determined not to play so deep a 
game of hazard as to attack them in their strong position,"' 
but to select a protected situation and await battle. There 
was a midnight conference with the engineers and it was decided 
to establish defenses at McCartey's old mill race, otherwise 
called Rodriguez's canal, two miles north of the scene of the 
night battle. It was no more than a dry ditch ten feet wide, 

iFrom a fragmentary Journal of the battle of New Orleans in Jackson's own hand/covering the period 
from December 23, 1814, to January 19, 1815. It seems to have been prepared some time after the battle 
but it was certainly before the death of Major Reid, in the winter of 1815-16. The sheets are missing which 
deal with events between December 28 and January 25 and from January 7 and to the battle on the west bank 
on January 8. It is among the Jackson Mss. in the Library of Congress. 



running three quarters of a mile from river to swamp, but it 
was the best natural protection in the neighborhood, and it 
was thought that with batteries placed at intervals it could be 
held against the enemy. 

The withdrawal of the troops began at four o'clock in the morn- 
ing of the twenty-fourth. They broke away from the left, 
Coffee first, then Carroll, who was already on hand, and last 
the regulars. At sunrise they held the mill race, the regulars 
next the river and Coffee next the swamp, in the same order as 
they were formed before the British a few hours earlier. Hinds's 
dragoons and a small company of horse from Feliciana Parish 
were left to observe the enemy. 

The British knew nothing of this movement but remained 
huddled on the field during the night and offered battle early 
in the morning. When no attack was made on them they with- 
drew, at eight o'clock, to their camp. All day reinforcements 
were hurried forward from the fleet, and by the morning of 
the twenty-fifth all the army which had arrived at the anchorage 
was landed. An old levee paralleled the new one at a distance 
of 300 yards and between the two the soldiers found some pro- 
tection from the fire of the Carolina and Louisiana on the river 
and from the threatened attacks of Coffee's horsemen whom 
Jackson sent to annoy them by land. Here Pakenham found 
them when he arrived on the morning of the twenty-fifth. The 
first thing he did after taking command was to move them to 
the plain, placing a large body near the cypress swamp and 
extending his outposts across the intervening space to the river. 
By this time the two armies faced each other at an interval of 
two miles, one preparing to march straight on the city, the other 
utili2mg every hour given it in erecting the works which would 
defeat such an advance. 

Pakenham was an able general but a methodical one. With 
5,500 troops in his camp he might have seized the American 


line, now barely more than a skeleton. But the Carolina and 
Louisiana annoyed his right flank, and he determined to silence 
or drive them away before he moved. By great exertion he 
got batteries in place during the night of the twenty-sixth and 
opened on them on the following morning with shell and hot 
shot. The second discharge of the latter fired the Carolina, 
which could not be taken away on account of contrary winds 
and a strong current. The batteries played on her for an hour, 
when she blew up. Meantime, the Louisiana with difficulty 
was towed out of range and saved. These operations delayed 
the British advance four days and gave the Americans a valuable 
opportunity to construct works of defense. 

When Jackson fell back on the twenty-fourth his first care 
was to order heavy guns and entrenching tools from New Or- 
leans. At I p. M., fifty spades and mattocks arrived and ground 
was immediately broken for the first battery. The general 
watched it with feverish anxiety, expecting at any moment 
to receive the advance of the British. At four o'clock he learned 
that they were being heavily reinforced and that they kept 
in close line formation. He concluded that they would not 
come at once and redoubled his effort on the works, sending 
to the neighboring plantations for all available implements. 
Three times each day he rode down the hnes and kept a part 
of his staff on them constantly. Although sufferifig from 
serious illness he did not sleep for three days and nights while 
the entrenchments were going through their first stages. He 
was "determined there to halt the enemy," as he himself said, 
"or bury himself on the ruins of that defense.'" 

Among Jackson's manuscripts is a fragmentary journal in 
which he gives us a view of the events of these trying days. 
In it we have a glimpse of the anxious haste with which were 
utilized the four days of grace which Pakenham fortunately 

'Jackson's fragmentary Journal^ Jackson Mss. 


allowed. During the night of the twenty-fourth the two six- 
pounders which served in the night battle were put in position six 
hundred yards from the river, being battery five on Latour's plan.' 
The next morning, the twenty-fifth. Hinds reported the British 
still in camp and fortifying on their flank. This seemed a 
good omen, and every effort was made to complete the three 
batteries then being constructed. The twenty-sixth, Hinds 
reported that the enemy during the night were busy bringing 
up heavy artillery, which indicated that they were not yet pre- 
pared to move forward. During the day three American 
batteries were completed, being numbers two, three, and four, 
commanded respectively by Lieutenant Norris, Captain Domi- 
nique, and Lieutenant Crawley. The morning of the twenty- 
seventh. Hinds reported that the British were still in camp but 
showed signs of activity. Early on the twenty-eighth he gave 
notice that they were forming in columns as if to advance. 
His messenger was hardly gone when the dragoons were attacked 
in force and compelled to withdraw behind the American lines. 
Following closely on their heels came the whole British arm}' 
in two compact columns, one near the river and the other march- 
ing parallel to it near the swamp. The sight of the American 
works surprised them, but they approached within cannon shot. 
The river column was immediately exposed to a heavy fire from 
the batteries on the line and from the Louisiana and floating 
batteries on the river : it was glad to seek any cover which 
offered and remained till evening in an uncomfortable position 
next to the levee from which it was brought with some loss 
and the appearance of a retreat. The other column deployed 
through the swamp where it encountered Coffee's riflemen and 
fell back when he prepared to outflank it. Pakenham was 
unwilling to try to carry the works and encamping at nightfall 
out of range of Jackson's cannon, sent for his great gtms and 

^Latour, Historical Memoir, map number 7. 


prepared to erect batteries with which he could beat down 
his opponent's defenses. At that time the American earth- 
works, if we may believe a British eyewitness, were no more 
than "a few abattis with a low mound of earth thrown up in 
the rear.'" Near the swamp they were weakly protected by 
the batteries, and it seems probable that a strong column massed 
here under the protection of the woods could have brushed away 
any defense Coffee and Carroll could have offered. It was the 
last opportunity the British had to break through: when their 
batteries were established, Jackson had strengthened his own 
works imtU they were impregnable. 

For three days after the demonstration of the twenty-eighth, 
the cautious and methodical Pakenham gave himself to the task 
of erecting batteries in front of Jackson's Hues. They began 
at the river, 700 yards from the Americans, and the first battery, 
containing seven light, long-ranged guns,was brought to bear on 
the river and the opposite shore where Commander Patterson 
had erected a battery. The Americans learned from deserters 
that hot shot were continually ready in these batteries for the 
Louisiana, if she should come within range. Facing Jackson's 
lines were four batteries with seventeen guns, eight eighteens, 
four twenty-fours, and five howitzers and field-pieces probably 
of twelve- and nine-pound capacity. It is estimated from the 
best sources that they threw a broadside of as much as 350 
pounds of metal. 

The British delay gave Jackson an opportunity to increase 
his artillery strength. On the twenty-eighth he had five guns 
in position, on the first of January fifteen. Three of these, 
one twenty-four and two long twelves, were on the west bank 
of the river, opposite the British batteries at a distance of three 
quarters of a mile. They were taken from the Louisiana and un- 
der Patterson's command did important service on January ist. 

^Sicbattern in America (edition 1833), 235. 


On the east bank the twelve guns were placed in eight bat- 
teries, thirty-twos, twenty-fours and smaller pieces. Together 
they threw a broadside of 226 pounds.' 

At 8 o'clock on New Year's morning these two lines of cannon 
began the best sustained artillery engagement of the war. The 
British were the attacking party, their object being to dismount 
the batteries so that the waiting infantry might go through the 
Una. They had the opportunity to dismount, if they could, 
the opposite batteries one at a time by concentrating their 
fire. If they did not do so within a reasonable time their attack 
was a failure. The task of the Americans was to sustain the 
fire of their opponents, and in this respect they had the advantage 
of better earthworks, because they had longer time to construct 
them. They sought also to disable the opposing batteries and 
drive them from the attack. The infantry of the two sides re- 
mained, for the most part, inactive during the battle. 

The British had great confidence in their artillerists, who now 
opened vigorously and incautiously, sending their shot for a 
time too high and thus wasting much of the ammunition which 
was brought from the fleet with great difl&culty. The Americans 
began slowly, observing the effect of their fire and seeking the 
proper range. As they found it their fire grew stronger till 
in the course of an hour it became so accurate and penetrating 
that the British were surprised and forced to admit its superi- 
ority. Some of their cannon were dismounted, and five were 
reported as abandoned on the field. By noon most of their 
batteries were silent, but their guns nearest the river were able 
to keep up a response at intervals till three in the afternoon. 
The British used hogsheads of sugar in their works, which proved 
to have slight power of resistance. To this they attributed the 
failure. In the night they withdrew their artillery, having lost 

'This statement of artillery strength is taken from map five in Latour, Historical Memoir; his statement in 
the text (page 147), is slightly different, where he omits the two four-pounders and includes a howitzer in 
battery number one, making a total weight of metal of 224 pounds. 


something less then seventy-five men. "Such a failure in this 
boasted arm," said Admiral Codrington with a tinge of pro- 
fessional jealousy, "was not to be expected, and I think it a blot 
in the artillery escutcheon.'" But we must not demand the 
impossible. The failure was due to the resistance of Jackson's 
earthworks and the excellence of his gunnery. 

The Americans suffered little. In the cheeks of the embrasures 
of their batteries bales of cotton were placed, which were knocked 
out of position by the enemy's shot to the confusion of the gun- 
ners.' Three guns were somewhat damaged, two caissons 
were exploded, and thirty men were killed or wounded — a 
small price to pay for the knowledge that American gunners 
could meet their EngUsh brethren on equal terms. Jackson 
was satisfied with his success. Till nightfall the British guns 
lay in the empty batteries, but he made no attempt to bring them 
off. He realized that it behooved him to be cautious. His 
trenches and his army were the only defenses against conquest. 
It was for his antagonist to decide what the next move 
should be. 

Pakenham's decision was duly made. He planned to throw 
to the west of the river a body of troops large enough to seize 
Patterson's guns which he would turn on Jackson's army on 
the east side,while with his main force he stormed the formidable 
works which sheltered the Americans. The movement was 
well designed, and if carried into effect with precision would 
be a dangerous one for Jackson. But the event showed that 
it was not easy to make the attack on the west bank at the right 
moment for cooperation with the assault on the east. 

The experiences of the past fortnight had given the British 

^Life of Codrington^l., 334. 

>Mucb has been said by later writers of this incident, which contemporaries barely mention, Reid and 
Eaton seem to say that Jackson continued to use cotton bales in his earth-works till after January 8, Lije oj 
Jackson, 357. Jackson, on the other hand, said in his old age, when his memory was entirely reliable, that no 
cotton bales were in his works. See Parton, Jackson, III., 633. 


greater respect for the resistance of the Americans, and their 
general was disposed to move cautiously. Major-General Lam- 
bert was daily expected with the 7th and 43d regiments number- 
ing together 1,570 men, and it was decided to await their arrival. 
Colonel Thornton, who led brilliantly the advance at Bladens- 
burg, was appointed to command the movement on the west 
bank. To put him across the river, orders were given to dig 
Villere's canal deep enough to carry the ships' barges, and on the 
night of the sixth the whole army by shifts labored silently to 
accomplish this vast undertaking. The boats might have been 
transported on rollers with less labor; for they were lighter 
than the artillery which the men had dragged up, but Pakenham 
preferred the canal since it would make it easier to conceal the 
movement of the boats, and, in order to make the deception 
surer, he commanded troops to maneuver in front of the canal 
while the boats were being moved. All this precaution was 
unnecessary; for, on the seventh, Patterson from the opposite 
side observed all that was done and understood its significance. 
It was not until January 6th, that Lambert arrived in camp and 
gave the occasion for the fijial advance. On the seventh, fifty 
boats were ordered to be placed on the Mississippi for the em- 
barkation of Thornton's command at nightfall. 

These activities gave Jackson an opportunity to make further 
preparations for meeting his foe. The cannonade on the first 
showed that his works were not thick enough and they were 
ordered strengthened. To his men it seemed a hardship, this 
eternal digging, which might as well be left to the Negro slaves: 
the men came to fight, not to build fortifications. One of the 
battaUons refused point-blank. Jackson, alarmed at this symp- 
tom of mutiny, sent for the oflacers of the discontented 
organization and told them plainly that he was prepared to 
take the most energetic measures if the men persisted in dis- 
obedience. The ofl&cers were impressed by his manner and 


assured him there would be no more trouble, and the promise 
was kept.' 

On January 5th, Major Peire suggested that a bastion be 
placed on the levee at the right and in front of the line to rake 
the flank of a charging column. Jackson objected on the-ground 
that it would obstruct his fire, but yielded when Colonel Hayne, 
whose opinion he valued highly, seconded Peire's opinion. It 
was against his judgment that he gave in and it was, as he says, 
"for the first time in my life.'" The event tended to justify 
his opinion. The bastion was easily seized by the British on 
the eighth; for its two six-pounders and small company of 
defenders were not able to resist the force concentrated against 
it; and retaking it was expensive. 

January 2d, General John Adair rode into Jackson's camp 
with the cheering news that the expected Kentuckians were near 
at hand. Two days later they arrived, 2,268 in all, commanded 
by Maj.-Gen. John Thomas. They were badly armed, 
two thirds having no guns of any kind. Seven hundred and 
fifty, only 500 of whom had muskets, were stationed in the rear 
of CarroU's men as a support. They were under the command 
of Brig.-Gen. John Adair. The rest of the Kentuckians 
were placed on Jackson's second line at Dupree's plantation. 
Although strenuous efforts were made to get arms they were 
only slightly successful, and these good troops were nearly 
useless in the battle which was about to begin. But on January 
7th, Adair armed 400 more of his men with gims he got in New 
Orleans and sent them to the advanced line. On the eighth, 
therefore, 1,100 Kentuckians fought by the side of Carroll's 

Jackson's lines of defense were three and consisted of three 
parapets, each extending from the river to the swamp. The 

'Jackson's fragmentary Journal, Jackson Mss. 
SFrom Jackson's fragmentary Journal, Jackson Mss. 


first was five miles from the city along Rodriguez's canal, the 
second two miles north of this at Dupree's plantation, and the 
third at Montreuil's, a mile and a quarter nearer New Orleans. 
The second and third lines were designed for ralljang points 
in case it should be necessary to abandon the first. As no such 
necessity arose, this description is concerned with the details 
of the first Une only. 

When Jackson took possession of Rodriguez's canal it was a 
dry ditch, twenty-five feet wide and four or five feet deep. By 
cutting the levee a quantity of water was let into it, but the 
quick subsidence of the river left it very shallow. Thirty 
yards behind the canal a palisade of fence pales and other boards 
was made and the soil was banked against it in the rear. The 
supervision of the engineers was not strict, and the citizen sol- 
diers of the various corps followed their own ideas, with the 
result that the parapet when completed was very irregular in 
height and width. In some parts it was twenty feet wide at 
the top, and in others it was hardly strong enough to stop a 
cannon-ball. Everywhere it was as much as five feet high and 
in some places higher. The batteries were placed in three groups, 
one bearing on the approach along the river road, one covering 
the centre of the plain, and the other covering the approach 
along the edge of the swamp. Number one was seventy feet 
from the river with the bastion a short distance in front and to the 
right, number two was ninety yards farther east, number three 
was fifty yards beyond that, and number four twenty yards 
farther. These made the first group. Number five was 190 
yards beyond number four, and number six about thirty-six 
yards farther, and these made the second group. Number 
seven was 190 yards beyond nimiber six, and number eight — 
the crippled brass howitzer — was sixty yards still farther, and 
these made the third group. Fifty yards beyond number eight 
the line plunged into the woods, here not impassable, for 750 


yards and then bent backward at right angles to its former 
direction until at the distance of 200 yards it ended in an im- 
practicable swamp. The part within the woods had no batteries 
and was only thick enough to withstand rifle shots. Whenever 
necessary, the parapet was provided with a banquette.' 

Besides the artillerymen, the troops behind the line consisted 
of the 7 th regiment next the river and from that point in order 
Plauche's battahon, Lacoste's and Daquin's battalions of 
Negroes, the 44th regiment, General CarroU's command sup- 
ported by Adair 400 yards in the rear, and Coffee's command 
which guarded the lines from the point at which it entered the 
woods, to the end. The total strength of these various bodies 
was 3,989 men.' Behind the line were 230 cavalry, in four 
small groups; and along the edge of the woods were posted 250 
Louisiana militia to prevent surprise in that quarter. Four 
hundred yards behind the line was placed a strong row of senti- 
nels to prevent any soldier leaving the line without permission. 
In front of the hne at a distance of 500 yards were the outposts. 
In this excellent position Jackson awaited the attack which 
various signs and bits of information led him to expect on the 
eighth of January. 

The point at which Pakenham proposed to break this defense 
was at battery number seven, which could be approached within 
two hundred yards with some protection from the woods. In 
front of this position he formed a column of 2,150 men under 
the command of Major- General Gibbs, supporting it on the 
right by a regiment of West Indian Negroes, 520 strong, with 
direction to advance through the woods and occupy Coffee's 
attention, breaking his lines if possible. While Gibbs led this 
column in the charge on the right, a second column consisting 
of 1,200 men under Major- General Keane was formed to advance 

iLatour, Historical Memoir, 145. 

■This estimate is based on Latour, Bistorical Memoir, 150, and is not far from the estimate made by Jackson 
two years after the battle, when be was in his controversy with Adair. 


along the road by the edge of the river, making a demonstration 
in force against Jackson's right and drawing his fire, while 
Gibbs did the real work of carrying the Une. A third column 
of 1,400 men under Major-General Lambert was held in reserve 
near the centre of the field. During the night of the seventh, 
six eighteen-pounders were thrown forward to one of the re- 
doubts erected for the artillery battle of the first and played 
on the American Une during the attempted assault. Gibbs's and 
Keane's columns were ordered to form two hours before dawn 
on the eighth, and it was planned to hurl them against the Ameri- 
cans while it was stiU dark enough to conceal their movements. 
Pakenham hoped that the attack might take his opponent 
by surprise, but in that he was to be disappointed. Had no 
external agency informed Jackson of what was coming, his 
sleepless activity would have prevented a surprise. 

In accurate cooperation with this assault were to be Thorn- 
ton's operations on the west bank. With 1,400 men, 200 of 
whom were seamen and 520 of whom were blacks from the 
West Indies, he was directed to embark by nightfall on the 
seventh, cross the river to a point three miles below the American 
defenses, thence march in the night up the river, seize Patter- 
son's batteries, and await the signal for the attack on the east 
bank. On getting it he was to turn Patterson's captured guns 
on Jackson's flank with all possible energy. It was a well 
arranged plan; for if at the moment of crisis in his front Jackson 
should find himself galled by his own guns from the west, the 
effect could be little less than demorahzing.' 

Thornton's success, however, depended on accurate coopera- 
tion and this proved to be impossible. The capricious Missis- 
sippi suddenly fell leaving only two feet of water in the precious 
canal and the boats had to be dragged along slowly by the men. 
The caving of the banks stopped some of the largest ones and 

^StiialleTH (edition 1833,) page as7, James, Military OKurnnces, II., 374-380. 


that created further delay. It was three o'clock before Thornton 
pushed off with a third of his force, and when he landed unop- 
posed on the opposite side he heard the reports of the British 
batteries which opened the battle. It was nearly three hours be- 
fore he could come within striking distance of Patterson's guns. 
But not all of the delay was with Thornton. Pakenham had 
the misfortune to appoint the 44th regiment to lead Gibbs's 
column. The selection is unaccountable; for it was notorious 
in the army that Lieutenant-Colonel Mullins, then in command, 
was incapable, and if Pakenham did not know it, the fault was 
his own. Fascines made of bundles of sugar cane with ladders 
were collected behind the place designated for the formation 
of the charging column, and the 44th was ordered to take them 
up as they proceeded to the head of the division. When they 
arrived they had neither fascines nor ladders, and it was time 
for the assault to be made. Three hundred men were hurried 
back to get them, leaving the 44th at the head of the column 
with 127 men. As the moments elapsed, the dawn began to 
appear and all the advantage of a concealed attack was lost. 
Through this the troops became impatient and uneasy under 
the American cannonade which then began and the signal was 
given for the attack before the formation of the 44th could be 
restored. With this element of confusion at the head of the 
column Gibbs's advance lost the precision which was necessary 
in the severe ordeal to which Jackson's deadly fire subjected it. 
The men forgetting their duty to rush the works with the bay- 
onets began to fire, the detail of the luckless 44th, rushing up with 
fascines and ladders, threw down their burdens and began to fire 
likewise, and the advance became a wavering, confused mass. 

Gibbs was now in despair. AU his commands were wasted, his 
column recoiled, and he rushed up to Pakenham a short distance 
in the rear exclaiming, "The troops will not obey me; they 
will not follow me!" Gibbs turned and dashed to the head of 


the column and Pakenham, his hat in his hand and shouting en- 
couragement to his men, followed on horseback. Two hundred 
yards from the parapet the latter's horse was killed and the 
rider was wounded. He hardly mounted another when a grape- 
shot brought him to the ground and he was borne to the rear 
in a dying condition. Gibbs reached the head of the column 
which was now rallying and carried it forward up to the very 
lines of his opponents, but in the deadly fire from their rampart 
he fell mortally wounded within twenty yards of the canal. 
At the same moment Keane was severely injured and when 
the soldiers saw their three leaders carried off the field, they 
lost courage and fell back. Lambert coming up with reserves 
had not the hardihood to repeat the costly attempt. 

Meantime, Keane on the left flank had been in action. With 
the signal for battle his brigade advanced along the river road, 
driving the sentinels so rapidly that his advanced companies 
rushed the bastion before its defenders could fire more than 
two rounds at them. Had the whole column now followed with 
vigor, the result might have been disastrous for the Americans; 
but mindful that his duty was merely to make a demonstration^ 
Keane held his men back, while the Americans rallied and drove 
out the captors of the bastion. His main column was halting 
at a respectful distance from the American fire. Seeing the 
plight of Gibbs's division near the woods, he obliqued across 
the interval to their assistance. It was rashly considered but 
bravely done in the face of the American fire. It accomplished 
nothing: Keane himself was severely wounded at the brink of 
the canal and his troops fell back with the others. The charge 
began at six: at half past eight, the fire of the musketry ceased 
and at two the cannonade ended.' 

>For the details of the British charge see Lambert's report, James, Military Occurrences, II., Appendix, 
number 96; also the testimony of Majors Tylden and McDougal quoted in the same, pages 37S to 379; Sub- 
tllern, chapter 21; Gleig.Campaigns in America, 323-7; Latoui, Historical Memoir, \n-i6i; and Reid and 
Eaton, Jackson, 365-70. Subaltern alone, mentions Keane's oblique movement, but he does it so explicitly 
that it is impossible to ignore him. 


But for the confusion in Gibbs's column the British charge 
was made splendidly. It was received by the Americans with 
equal courage and without confusion. All night they lay on 
their arms in two equal shifts which relieved one another at the 
ramparts. The first clearing of the horizon at dawn revealed 
the enemy drawn up in line more than four hundred yards in 
front of the ditch. The American batteries opened at once, 
while the British gave the signal for the charge. With grim 
determination and some admiration the backwoods riflemen 
saw the red line narrow itself into a compact column sixty men 
broad and start at double quick for that part of the works which 
was defended by Carroll and Adair. They had ample time for 
preparations and concentrated their forces at the danger point 
in several ranks which fired and loaded alternately. At easy 
musket range the American infantry delivered a murderous 
fire, shaking the column, while the batteries, loading with grape 
and canister, ploughed wide lanes through the compact mass. 
The roU of musketry was like continuous peals of thunder. The 
first onslaught lasted twenty-five minutes, when the column 
recoiled to its original position, where it was reformed and 
brought back. Again the Tennesseeans and Kentuckians 
received it with a hail of musket-baUs and grape-shot. A few 
of the attackers crossed the canal, probably two hundred, and 
endeavored to climb the slippery sides of the parapet. Some 
succeeded, only to be killed or captured on the top, and 
others remained in comparative safety at the bottom till they 
rejoined their retreating colleagues. When the smoke of 
battle cleared away, a broad space before the seventh battery 
was red with the prostrate forms of British soldiers. "The 
groimd," says Subaltern, "was literally covered with dead; 
they were so numerous that to count them seemed impos- 
sible." They were' counted, however, the dead and wounded 

'Edition 1833, page 361. 


on the east bank, and the number was 1,971. Jackson's loss 
on this side was six killed and seven wounded. Among the 
British casualties were one lieutenant-general, two major-gen- 
erals, eight colonels and lieutenant-colonels, six majors, eighteen 
captains, and fifty-four subalterns. This excessive propor- 
tion of the officers engaged shows the excellence of the 
frontier marksmanship. 

On the west bank the battle went otherwise. Jackson was 
accustomed to concentrate his energies on one thing at a time. 
While he gave himself to driving the British from Pensacola, 
he neglected New Orleans, although he might have done much 
good by riding thither at least once while he waited for Coffee. 
In the same manner he gave his attention to the east bank and 
left the west side to others. It does not appear that he was 
once on that side during the sixteen days that the British were 
pushing their way toward the city. He left the defense there 
to Maj.-Gen. David Morgan, of the Louisiana militia, a man 
of little military experience or ability, and gave him a body 
of militia who had never seen service of any kind. And although 
the river was only three quarters of a mile wide at this place 
no boats were provided for crossing so as to allow means of 
quick reinforcements. On January 7th, Morgan had 550 militia, 
when it was known that he would be attacked during the night. 
To reinforce him Jackson in the afternoon ordered 500 of the 
unarmed Kentuckians to proceed to the west bank by way of 
the city, where they were expected to get some arms which 
the mayor was retaining for an emergency. In the city they 
learned that Adair got these arms earher in the day, but after 
some delay they got seventy muskets at the naval station which, 
with some inefficient arms they had before, made 170 who had 
guns. The rest did not feel called upon to hurry into danger 
without arms and went into camp a little south of the city. 
The armed ones, under command of Colonel Davis, proceeded 


and came to Morgan's lines at 4 o'clock in the morning of the 
eighth. They had marched in twelve hours from Dupree's line 
to Morgan's line, a distance of eight miles, not enough to exhaust 
them, but under such conditions that they were tired and dis- 
couraged. Morgan received them gladly, and keeping the larger 
part of his Louisiana troops in his line sent the Kentuckians 
at once farther down the river to meet the enemy. It was not 
a cheerful detail to men who were expecting an opportunity, 
to rest, but they departed without protest. 

Earlier in the night Morgan sent Major Amaud, with 100 
mihtia down the river road to prevent the landing of the British. 
Finding no enemy on the bank he bivouacked his command at 
midnight three miles from Morgan and placed a single sentinel 
on the road southward from it. At dawn Thornton with 600 
men and three gun-barges on the river manned by about a hun- 
dred sailors moved northward as rapidly as possible. They 
soon came upon Arnaud's faithful sentinel, who gave his com- 
rades fair warning of their danger and enabled them to escape in 
safety. A mile from Morgan they joined the Kentuckians under 
Colonel Davis, who took command of both bodies, formed them 
on a canal, and awaited Thornton's attack. It came promptly 
with an attempt to turn the right, where Arnaud was placed. 
The Louisianians were thrown into confusion and fled incon- 
tinently, so demoralized that very few of them saw further 
service during the day. Davis was forced to fall back, and he 
joined Morgan who assigned him to a place on his right flank. 
Thornton followed aggressively, annoying the Americans both 
on land and from his three gun-barges, which continually raked 
the bank with grape-shot. 

Morgan's line, on the opposite side of the river and a mile 
southward of Jackson's line, was badly located. It began 
at the southern end of Patterson's batteries, which covered nearly 
a mile of the bank, and ran with a canal from the river to the 


swamp, a distance of 2,000 yards. To hold such a Hne properly 
would require 2,000 men. It was selected against the advice 
of Jackson's engineer, who pointed out a position half a mile 
northward where the plain was only half as wide. But that 
position would leave half of Patterson's batteries south of the 
line; and since Morgan decided after conferring with Patterson, 
it is not unfair to assume that the desire to protect the batteries 
had something to do with Morgan's decision. Entrenchments 
were thrown up on the line for 200 yards from the river, and in 
this part were placed one twelve-pounder and two six-pounders 
with that part of the militia which remained after Arnaud's 
flight. This left 1,800 yards undefended, and when Davis arrived 
about eight o'clock, hard pressed by Thornton, he was ordered 
to take position upon it. Between him and the militia was an 
interval of 200 yards, his own command of less than 200 men 
was stretched out to cover 300 yards, and the rest of the line 
to the swamp was without defense except for a picket guard 
of eighteen men. The whole force was a httle over 600, some 
of whom were badly armed. 

Thornton was as quick as he was energetic. Seeing Morgan's 
exposed right he determined to turn it. He sent a part of the 
85th regiment to make this flank movement by way of the woods 
and out of range of any guns which Patterson or Morgan could 
bring to bear on them. With another part of his force he made 
a feint along the road, and with still another sought to enter 
the gap between Davis and the miUtia. The Kentuckians stood 
well for a time, but realizing that they were about to be sur- 
rounded, withdrew from their position, leaving the miUtia exposed 
on their right with the result that these also retreated. Both 
Morgan and Patterson expected that the batteries of the latter 
would protect the line, but in the actual conflict it was seen that 
the defenders of the line so obstructed the fire that they could 
not be used on an enemy approaching from the south. Thornton's 


success on the line forced Patterson to withdraw. He had 
time merely to spike his long-range guns, which had served 
so well in annoying the enemy on the east bank, and to withdraw 
his gunners. Thus it happened that about the time the attack 
on the east side was a failure that on the west was completely 
successful. Thornton pursued the retreating Americans for 
two miles. Holding the west bank for a mile above Jackson's 
line the British were now in a position to force him out of his 
position, had they been disposed to foUow Thornton's success. 

Fortunately for the Americans, the British were satisfied 
with the situation. They had suffered too much on the east 
bank to utilize their success on the west, and Major-General 
Lambert, who was now in command, after finding that it would 
take 2,000 troops to hold what Thornton had won — which 
Jackson tried to hold with 600 — ordered the left column to 
recross the river during the night. Thus ended an engagement 
in which Jackson lost six killed and wounded, sixteen pieces of 
artillery, and the key to his first Une of defense. It cost the 
enemy seventy-three killed and wounded, and Thornton was 
among the latter. The entire losses for the day were for the 
British 2,137 and for the Americans seventy-one, fifty of which 
were sustained in a sortie from Jackson's line.' 

Responsibility for the disaster on the west bank rests on 
Morgan and Patterson, who adopted an impossible line of de- 
fense, and on Jackson, who was ignorant of the conditions there 
and who failed to send enough troops to hold it. For two weeks 
1,000 of Carroll's men had lain on the Chef Menteur road in 
the unwarranted expectation that the enemy would divide his 
force and carry that approach before it could be strengthened 
from the American lines on the river. Had these Tennesseeans 

*For the battle of the west bank see Latour, Historical Memoir, 164-176, Reid and EaXon, Jack^n, 373- 
378, Gayarrc, Louisiana, IV., 478-496, Smith, The Battle of New Or/eanj, (Filson Club Publications, number 
10), 8g-i2i, Jackson's and Patterson's reports in Latour, Sw/orjco/ 3/ emo/r. Appendix, number ag, Thornton's 
and Lambert's report5,76*d, number 66, and in James, Military Occurrences, Appendix, numbers 96 and 97. 


been ordered to join Morgan on the afternoon of the seventh, 
the story of the battle would probably have been different.' 

Jackson did not recognize this responsibility and, with both 
Morgan and Patterson, placed it on the detachment of Kentuck- 
ians. In the moment when Gibbs and Keane were repulsed, the 
commander-in-chief, standing on the levee by his line, saw through 
the mists the maneuvers of Thornton a mile and a half away. 
Events immediately in front of him gave him confidence and 
he waited to see a Uke success on the west bank. To his disap- 
pointment the flashes of the guns through the fog revealed the 
retreat of the Kentuckians and Louisianians. "At the very 
moment," runs his report, "when the entire discomfiture of 
the enemy was looked for, with a confidence amounting to 
certainty, the Kentucky reinforcements, in whom so much 
reHance had been placed, ingloriously fled, drawing after them, 
by their example, the remainder of the forces." This was his 
official indignation. His unofficial vrrath. burst out in violent 
abuse that morning on the levee, as he saw the men falling back. 
He ordered General Humbert, distinguished in the French army 
of Napoleon but now serving as a volunteer private in the 
American ranks, to take 400 men, cross the river, and recover 
the lost position at any cost. Humbert obeyed with pleasure, 
but on the other side found that some of Morgan's officers 
objected to serving under a man who was not a citizen, and as 
Jackson had neglected to give him written authority for as- 
suming command he returned in disgust. The withdrawal 
of Thornton made it possible for the Americans to reoccupy 
their former position, where a better Une was established and 
Patterson's batteries were remounted in a better location. 

At noon of the eighth there was a Bengal from the enemy 

'Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 422, and Jackson's fragmentary Journal. December 23. Jackson's assertion 
that only sixteen hundred of Carroll's men had arms seems doubtful, but even if it is correct, he still had six 
hundred of Carroll's men, wl\om he cpuld have spared to Morgan. See Jackson t» Monroe, December 34, 
1814 and February 17^ 18x5, lacTcSon Mss. 


on the east bank and a flag of truce approached with a letter 
asking for an armistice to bury the dead. Desiring to conceal 
the loss of the three senior officers, Lambert signed the request 
without naming his rank. Jackson desired to gain time and 
replied with explicit terms, which he hardly expected Lambert 
to accept. The latter took it under consideration, promising 
an answer by ten o'clock on the ninth. Lambert hesitated, 
because Jackson insisted that operations should not cease on 
the west bank and that neither party should reinforce his 
troops there.' By next morning Thornton's command was 
safe on the east bank, and Lambert accepted the armistice. 
The dead and the severely wounded, left on the field during the 
night, were now removed. Gleig, a British officer who rode 
out to the scene, teUs us what he saw. "Of all the sights," he 
says, "I ever witnessed, that which met me there was beyond 
comparison the most shocking and the most humiliating. Within 
the small compass of a few hundred yards were gathered to- 
gether nearly a thousand bodies, all of them arrayed in British 
uniforms. Not a single American was among them; all were 
EngUsh; and they were thrown by dozens into shallow holes, 
scarcely deep enough to furnish them with a slight covering of 
earth. Nor was tliis all. An American officer stood by smok- 
ing a segar, and apparently counting the slain with a look of 
savage exultation; and repeating over and over to each indi- 
vidual that approached him, that their loss came only to eight 
men killed, and fourteen wounded."' 

From the eighth till the eighteenth the armies were inactive 
except for a desultory cannonade from the American line and a 
spiritless British bombardment of Fort St. Philip, on the Missis- 

iSec Jackson's report, January g, 1815, Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendix number 2q, and Reid and Eaton, 
Jackson, 383. But Jackson's fragmentary Journal and a letter from Lambert to Jackson, January 8, both 
In the Jackson Mss, seem to show that the armistice was accepted on the eighth. Jackson thought that 
Lambert was frightened by the demand that neither side should reinforce the west bank, and delayed till 
he could bring Thornton over. 

*Gleig, Campaign at Washington and New Orleans, 332. 


sippi. Major Hinds, whose conduct in this campaign marks 
him for a man of singular ability, asked permission to attack 
with the cavalry. Jackson refused, lest Hinds should do some- 
thing which would bring on an engagement in the open field. 
He advised with Adair and Coffee, both of whom urged him not 
to attack in the open. The former said: "My troops will 
fight when behind breastworks or in the woods, but do not hazard 
an attack with raw militia in the open plain: they cannot be 
relied on. The officers are inexperienced, the soldiers without 
subordination or discipUne. You would hazard too much by 
making an attack with them in the open plain against well 
disciphned troops.'" 

On the fifteenth, signs of activity in the camp showed that 
the British were about to depart: on the morning of the nine- 
teenth their Unes were deserted. They had constructed forti- 
fications at the mouth of Bayou Bienvenue and withdrawn 
behind them till the army could be carried slowly to the fleet 
riding in deep water sixty miles away. Hinds with 1,000 men 
was sent to cut up their rear, but found them so well defended 
in the narrow passes of the swamps that he considered it unwise 
to attack.' On the twenty-seventh, the difl&cult work of em- 
barking was completed; but bad weather detained the fleet 
at its anchorage until February 5th, when it was at last able 
to stand away to the east. Two days later it came to a halt 
off Dauphine Island, where the army was disembarked for a 
period of rest after a most exhausting and demoralizing experi- 
ence. Its total loss, by the British account, since December 
23d, was 2,492, while its opponents lost only 333.' 

On the morning of the nineteenth, Jackson and his staff rode 
to the abandoned camp. They were met on the way by a British 
surgeon with a letter from Lambert announcing his departure 

'Jackson's fragmentary Journal, Jackson Mss. 


•Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendix, number 29; James, MUilary Occurrences, II., 388. 


from Louisiana and asking considerate treatment for eighty 
wounded who could not be moved. Jackson received the mes- 
senger with courtesy and sent his chief medical man to aid in 
caring for the wounded men, and later he visited them himself. 
On the ground the enemy left fourteen pieces of artillery so 
disabled as to be useless. On the twenty-first, the major part 
of the American army was withdrawn from the lines and entered 
the city amid demonstrations of joy by the inhabitants. On the 
twenty-third a Te Deum was sung in the cathedral with gteat 
pomp. As the general proceeded across the square to the 
edifice he passed under a triumphal arch under which two 
maidens presented him with laurel wreaths; farther on other 
maidens strewed flowers in his path; at the door the Abbe 
Dubourg delivered a laudatory address to which Jackson re- 
plied in studied moderation; and a guard of honor escorted 
him to his lodgings. 

In his address the abbe referring to the recent victory said: 
"The first impulse of your religious heart was to acknowledge 
the signal interposition of Providence." A "religious heart" 
has rarely been considered one of Jackson's possessions, yet 
in this case the priest's words were appropriate. Several of 
the grim warrior's letters witness his conviction that his success, 
marvellous to himself, was partly due to Divine intervention. 
To his friend, Col. Robert Hays, he wrote: "It appears 
that the unerring hand of providence shielded my men from the 
shower of Balls, bombs, and Rockets, when every Ball and 
Bomb from our guns carried with them a mission of death. 
Tell your good lady and family god bless them.'" Nor did he 
hesitate to give the same opinion in his ofl&cial dispatches. To 
Monroe he wrote: "Heaven, to be sure, has interposed most 
wonderfully in our behalf, and I am filled with gratitude when 
I look back to what we have escaped; but I grieve the more 

'Jackson to Hays.'January 26, 1815, Jackson Mss. 


that we did not, with more and more industry use the means 
with which she had blessed us. Again and again I must repeat, 
we have been always too backward with our preparations. When 
the enemy comes we begin to think of driving him away; and 
scarcely before." ' 

It is true that Jackson realized the military situation slowly. 
It was not till the British were actually at hand that he reaUzed 
the importance of guarding New Orleans: it was not till the 
gunboats were taken that he realized that he ought to concen- 
trate his forces: it was not tiU December 29th, that he ordered 
New Orleans to be searched for entrenching tools;' it was not 
till the British held Bayou Bienvenue that he realized its impor- 
tance: it was not till the militia were about to arrive without 
arms that he realized how few muskets he had: it was not till 
Jean Lafitte suggested that the extreme left of his hne ought 
to be bent backward so as to rest on an impassable swamp that 
this position was made secure;' and it was not till Thornton 
held the left bank that he realized fully its importance in the 
general scheme of defense. 

A serious embarrassment in this campaign was the lack of 
arms. Jackson tried to throw the responsibihty on others. 
His apologists say' he asked for a supply in the summer of 18 14, 
but no reference to this is made in his extensive preserved cor- t-- 
respondence in the siunmer and early autumn. He even drew 
500 stands from New Orleans to Mobile in September.' The 
first specific reference to the subject in the correspondence is 
in a letter to Governor Blount, October 27th.' Coffee had just 
arrived without a fuU equipment and that seems to have roused 
his interest for the first time. Up to that time he seems to have 

ijackson to Monroe, February 17, 181S, Jackson Mss. 
'Livingston to Mayor Girod, December 29, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
•Livingston to Jackson, December 25, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
*Latour, Historical Memoir, 66. 

'Captain Humphrey to Jackson, September 6, 1814 , Jackson Mss. 
'Jackson Mss. 


overlooked the fact that his division was without arms, which 
was quite in keeping with his failure to give attention to detail. 
He was now, however, urgent enough. Monroe, at last aroused 
to the necessity, ordered the commandant at Fort LaFayette, 
near Pittsburg, to send a supply immediately. November 8th 
5,000 stands were sent by sail boats from that place with the 
expectation that they would arrive in twenty days. The time 
was ample, but the captains loitered to trade and the delay was 
fatal. One of the boats was fast enough to fall in with Carroll 
on his way to the place of danger, and he took the responsibility 
of taking 1,100 stands to make up the deficiency in his command: 
the rest arrived at their destination after the battle of the eighth.' 

Nor was Jackson quite correct in saying that he had only 
3,200 stands at the time of the battle. The regulars, Carroll's 
men. Coffee's men, the Louisiana militia, and 1,000 of the Ken- 
tuckians, over 6,000 in all, must have had arms. Besides, the 
returns of his ordnance department show that 2,404 stands 
were issued from December i8th till January 8th.' 

Deficient as he sometimes was in the science of warfare, 
he was nevertheless an excellent fighter. Wherever he fought, 
fighting was good. Mutiny frequently appeared in his camp 
because of the great exertion he demanded of his men, but neither 
in the Creek nor in the New Orleans campaign did the soldiers 
directly under his authority ever flinch on the field of battle. 
Had he been present on the west bank on the morning of January 
8th, the result, doubtless, would have been less humiliating. 
Good oflScers, as he wrote down in his journal, will make good 
soldiers :' his own influence showed the truth of the statement. 

General Jackson's qualities made a good impression on his 
opponents. James, the British historian of the war, says: "He 

ijackson to Carroll, October 31; Jackson to Monroe, October 31, 1814; Wollesley to Jackson, Novemb'?r 
8, 18x4; Monroe to Blount, November 3, 18x4; Jackson Mss. 
'Jackson Mss. 
■Jackson's fragmentary Journal, January 18, 18x5, Jackson Mss. 


proved himself at New Orleans, not only an able general for the 
description of country in which he had to operate, but, in all 
his transactions with the British ofl&cers, both an honorable, 
and a courteous enemy. In his ofi&cial despatches, too, he has 
left an example of modesty, worthy of imitation by the generality 
of American commanders, naval as well as military.'" The 
characterization is correct. Jackson had a strong sense of 
dignity. When his antipathy was aroused, he was most perverse, 
stickling over punctilios, blustering, and absolutely wrong- 
headed, but under normal conditions he treated his antagonist 
with the consideration of a brave man, who is not afraid to be 
generous. An illustration of this quality is the cordial manner 
in which in the following note he restored the sword of General 
Keane who requested to be allowed to redeem it: 

"The general commanding the American forces, having 
learned that Major-General Kean of the British army had 
expressed a wish for the restoration of his sword, lost in the 
action of the eighth of January in consequence of a wound, feels 
great satisfaction in ordering it to be returned to him. Mr. 
Livingston, one of his volunteer aids, is charged with the delivery 
of it. The undersigned, feeling for the misfortune of the brave, 
begs that General Kean will be assured of his wishes for his 
speedy restoration.'" 

Unfortunately, many things happened in connection with 
the New Orleans campaign which illustrate a less attractive 
side of Jackson's character. The bountiful crop of strife which 
he reaped must be reserved for the next chapter. 

■James, liiiUary Oxumnces, II., 39°- 

'Jackson to General Keane, February 4; G. M. Ogden to Jackson, February 3, 1815; Jackson Mss. 



The two months following the departure of the British on 
January i8th brought Jackson almost as much anxiety as the 
two months preceding it, with the difference that it was due 
to petty rather than to important public matters. Although 
a treaty of peace between England and the United States was 
signed by the commissioners on December 24, 1814, news of 
the event did not reach New York until February 11, 18 15, 
and it was not known in New Orleans until it arrived by way 
of the British fleet on February 19th. American newspapers 
soon confirmed the intelligence, but the ofiicial despatches which 
ought to have brought the news to Jackson were delayed in the 
post-office so long that it was not until March 13 th that he had 
advices from his government. The interval between the receipt 
of unofficial and official information was a period of uncertainty. 
Jackson properly refused to reduce his strength or relax his 
vigilance until he knew that peace was made. The legislature 
and many of the people of Louisiana, naturally censorious, 
clamored for the repeal of the edict proclaiming martial law and 
for the dismissal of the militia; Governor Claiborne and United 
States Judge Hall were drawn into the affair; and an unhappy 
state of confusion followed which the tactless efforts of Jackson, 
only made worse. Along with the consideration of these facts one 
must observe certain final stages of the actual campaign, as the 
attack on Fort Bowyer, and the punishment of a notable mutiny. 
All these events bring Jackson's personality into prominence and 
give additional basis for an opinion on his ability as a public man. 



After the first attack on Fort Bowyer, September 15, 1814, 
Jackson ordered its defenses to be strengthened, taking for 
that purpose a number of heavy cannon from New Orleans. 
Major Lawrence was left in command, and with his twenty-two 
guns and his garrison of 366 men he felt sure of defending the 
place against any number of hostiles. From the water the fort 
was, indeed, impregnable; but on the land side its walls were 
no more than three feet thick and composed of an earth wall 
held up by boards, while the interior was without cover for 
the gunners or any other means of protection against explosives 
thrown into the enclosure. Moreover, certain sand-mounds 
within easy range offered an enemy the opportunity of securing, 
if he fortified them, absolute command of the position. To 
defend the place, therefore, from a land attack there must be 
enough force to hold an enemy at a safe distance from this danger 
point. A thousand troops were not too many for such a task. 

Lambert arrived with the British army at Dauphine Island 
on February 6th, determined to carry his arms against Mobile, 
and his first concern was Fort Bowyer. He saw that the place 
could not be taken from the water and decided to invest it. 
For this duty he selected the second brigade, then about twelve 
hundred men strong,' which early on the eighth landed on the 
peninsula two and a half miles east of the fort. It was supported 
by artillerists, sappers and miners, and marines, making probably 
as many as 450 in this auxiUary force. Its first step was to 
estabhsh a line across the peninsula in order to cut off possi- 
ble reinforcements from the mainland. The garrison withdrew 
into their defenses and the British approached within three 
hundred yards of the walls. They began parallels, seized the 
sand-mounds, constructed batteries which the American gunners 

'The British returns of captured made the garrison 375, but the American authorities speak of them as 
366. See James, Military Occurrences, II., 573; Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendix, number 38. 

'Composed of the 4th, 21st, and 44th regiments, which had 1974 men before January 8. On that day, they 
lost 1089; if half of their wounded were recovered, they now had 11 70. James, Military Occurrences, II., 
373, SSS- 


could not destroy by using their severest fire, and on the morning 
of the eleventh had four eighteen-pounders and two eight- 
inch howitzers trained on the fort at a distance of i era yards, 
besides ten smaller pieces at a distance of 300 yards or less. 
At ten o'clock Lambert sent forward a flag of truce with a demand 
that the fort surrender. Lawrence conferred with his officers, 
asked for time to consider, and in the afternoon agreed to sur- 
render on the following day. With the fort and garrison 
went twenty-eight pieces of artiUery, 351 stands of arms, and an 
ample supply of ammunition. The loss of the British in killed 
and wounded was twenty-one; that of the Americans was eleven.' 

The easy capture of Fort Bowyer was largely due to the negli- 
gence of Winchester, who at this time had been for two and a 
half months in command at Mobile with ample forces to guard 
it. It was his duty to protect it or abandon it, and he did 
neither. It was not until the tenth that he ordered Major 
Blue, with 1,200 whites and Indians, to go to the aid of the 
garrison. Contrary winds kept them back so that they did not 
arrive until the twelfth.' Some one was to blame, also, for 
the short supply of provisions in the fort, and the unprepared 
state of the defenses on the land side. 

As to Jackson's responsibility, it is certain that he did not 
reaUze the danger in which Mobile stood. In spite of his former 
predilection for the place, he gave it little attention after he 
arrived in New Orleans. One thing at a time was his way. 
When the enemy left Cat Island he assumed they were bound 
for Bermuda to await orders and hastily forwarded his reassur- 
ing opinion to Winchester. January 30th, he wrote again to 
his subordinate, "I have no idea that the enemy will attempt 
Fort Bowyer on your quarter, still you cannot be too well pre- 
pared and too vigilant.'" 

^'LatouTtEistoricai Memoir, 207, Appendices, 39, 40, 49, 46; Reid and Eaton, Jackson, i^oo; James, Military 
Occurrences, II., 391, 570-575; Gleig, Campaigns in America, 351; Niles, Register, VII., 33, 58. 
•Niles, Register, VII., 32, 58. 
■Jackson to Winchester, January 19 and 30, 1815, Jackson Mss. 


The loss of Fort Bowyer was particularly disappointing after 
the brilliant affair at New Orleans, and Jackson felt it very 
keenly. With the same kind of excited judgment which pre- 
cipitated the quarrel with the Kentuckians he criticized Law- 
rence in his report for surrendering before the enemy fired a 
round from the commanding batteries. Lawrence felt the 
injustice of the charge and demanded an inquiry, which was 
granted: the result was complete vindication." 

Jackson began to plan to retake the fort as soon as he knew 
of its fall. February 21st, he received from Admiral Cochrane 
a note enclosing a copy of a bulletin received from Jamaica 
containing an account of the peace signed at Ghent on Decem- 
ber 24th, and with it the admiral's congratulations. Nothing 
was said about suspension of hostilities pending the receipt of 
official intelligence, and Jackson in his reply inquired on what 
footing the admiral was pleased to consider the two armies 
since the receipt of the information. While thus appearing 
to give full credence to the information, he privately professed 
to see in it the possibility of a ruse and wrote to Mcintosh, who 
was about to supersede Winchester, to suggest that they unite 
their forces and expel the British from Mobile Bay and thus wipe 
out the stain of the surrender of Fort Bowyer. He believed it 
could be done since the combined forces would be double what 
he had at New Orleans when he repelled the attack of this same 
British army.' It was a piece of thoughtless bravery, and a mo- 
ment's reflection must have convinced him that if the peace 
rumor were true the position would be given up without loss of 
life. If it proved untrue it would still be very difficult for the 
6,000 Americans now in Mobile to protect the town and recover 
the fort into which the enemy could place 2,000 men and still 
have left for operations against the town more men than the 

'Latour, Historical Memoir, Appendix, number 40. 

'Jackson to Mcintosh, February 22, 181S, Jackson Mss.; also bis proclamation, February ig, 1815; Latour, 
Histmical Memoir, Appendin 41. 


whole American army contained, and this over and above their 
advantage from the control of the bay. Jackson was no doubt 
in a tortured frame of mind. To Governor Holmes, of Missis- 
sippi, he wrote on February 21st: "I am prepared for anything 
war or peace. If an honorable peace I hail it with heartfelt 
satisfaction: if dishonorable it will meet my hearty imprecations. 
But the Lord's will be done. The faU of Fort Bowyer is truly 
grating to my feelings." ' He was accustomed to demand of his 
subordinates the most imphcit obedience, but he rarely showed 
the same spirit toward his own superiors. 

On the very day he received Cochrane's announcement of 
peace the six mutinous militiamen met their fate at Mobile. 
This event, which was in itself only a matter of army discipUne 
and created no criticism at the time, was later utilized by 
Jackson's political enemies to oppose his election. The inci- 
dent is related as follows: 

In the spring of 1814, the governor of Tennessee, under the 
authority of the secretary of war, called out 1,000 drafted 
militia for garrison duty in the Creek country, specifying in 
the call that they should serve six months from June 20th, the 
date of mustering in. When the commander of the division 
arrived at Fort Jackson in July, 1814, he found the place in a 
neglected condition: he rather abruptly ordered the garrison 
on fatigue duty, to cut down trees, remove undergrowth, 
open ditches, and do the other similar things necessary to make 
a new site habitable and defensible. Along with this came the 
dog days with much of the dreaded "Coosa fever," and the 
result was a great deal of dissatisfaction among the men at 
Forts Jackson, Strother, and Williams. 

As in the preceding autumn, the discontent crystallized into 
a claim that the tour of duty of the militia was three, instead 
of six, months. By clever arguments a doubt was thrown on 

'Jackson to Governor Holmes, February ai, 1815, Jackson Mss. 


the governor's right to cdl them out for six months, but the 
matter was never anything but a case for judicial determination, 
and the governor's action from the standpoint of the objectors 
was not void but voidable. The remedy of the militia, if a 
wrong was done them, was in the courts and not in mutiny. 

The garrison at Fort Jackson belonged to the ist regiment 
of West Tennessee militia, commanded by Colonel Pipkin, and 
as September 20th approached, they became particularly de- 
monstrative. All the experiences of Fort Strother in the dis- 
tressful days of November and December, 1813, were repeated. 
Some of the officers supported the demands of the men. On 
the night of September 2d, the following lines were attached 
to the gate-post of the fort: 

Look below we are the Boys, 
That fear no Noise, 
Nor Orders that we hear. 
Eighteen days more, 
And then we go, 
Or be found in gore, 
And never come here no more. 
To suffer as we and many others have Before. 
Liberty Street.' 

September 14th, there was an open demonstration of the dis- 
contented ones. A few of them got a fife and drum and beat 
up and down the lines till they drew to them nearly two hundred 
others. Then they seized a quantity of bread and set the 
bread house on fire, while threatening to take stores and cattle 
and march back to Tennessee." 

A leader of this group was John Harris, a Baptist preacher 
who was nearly as illiterate as the others. His influence as 
a minister ought to have been more worthily exerted than in 
promoting disobedience; but having convinced himself that 

'Enclosed in Colonel Pipkin to Jackson, September 4, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
•Thomas Hoa(land to Jackson, September 15, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


a tour of duty ought to be three months, he took the law into 
his own hands and went about with a list of men who were pledged 
to go home. On September 20th, he and 200 others set out 
for Tennessee, where some of them arrived in due time. But 
the majority were met and arrested by the reinforcements on 
their way to the front and carried back to Fort Jackson. Harris 
and a few others of those who reached their homes learned the 
fate of their comrades and went back of their own accord to 
stand trial, so convinced were they of their innocence. 

This reappearance of the spirit of mutiny at a time when 
invasion was threatened exasperated the higher officers of the 
army. Col. Robert Butler, adjutant-general, in sending the 
arrested ones to Fort Jackson expressed the hope that they 
woidd be ordered to Mobile and said to Jackson: "The rascals 
should be taught what it is to disgrace the state and the Ameri- 
can character. You can manage them when there in perfec- 

Jackson did, in fact, order the regiment to Mobile, and as 
he was departing for New Orleans appointed a court-martial 
composed of officers of the Tennessee militia to try the muti- 
neers. The hearing began on December 5th. From the be- 
ginning there was no doubt of the guih of the accused. The 
only question was, should their honest opinion that they were 
bound for a three months' tour of duty be taken as an extenuat- 
ing circumstance? The court, whose members were serving 
under the same law as the accused, took a negative view of 
the matter. All the prisoners to the number of 205 were con- 
victed: six of them were condemned to death, and the others 
to penalties less severe. Jackson kept the verdict in his hands 
during the trying days of the British stay below New Orleans 
and finally approved it on January 28th, a week after the evacua- 
tion of the British camp. On February 21st, just as the rumor 

^Butler to Jackson, September sa, 1814, Jackson Mss. 


of peace began to circulate on the coast, the six unhappy militia- 
men were shot, dying firmly and protesting their innocence of 
wrong intention.' 

Jackson approved of the finding of the court-martial, but he 
was not responsible for it. It is not charged that he tried 
to influence it. The weight of the allegation against him is 
that he did not modify the sentence. He ought to have done 
this if he believed the good of the service demanded it. But 
he might well believe that the good of the service demanded 
that the spirit of mutiny be suppressed and that the militia 
be taught that it was not for them to interpret their rights 
under the law at the risk of demoralizing the defense of the 
nation. But for the later political agitation the matter would 
have been forgotten. The case of Harris appealed to the agi- 
tators especially: they believed that it would arouse the 
indignation of the Baptists, who were numerous in some of the 
doubtful states. The whole affair is only interesting as a mani- 
kin which has been made to play a part in a past political struggle. 

While the career of the six militiaman was drawing to a close 
at Mobile, Jackson became involved in a blazing quarrel with 
several persons and groups of persons in New Orleans. In this 
affair one event followed another with increasing effect until 
the situation was acute; but probably the most important 
cause was Jackson's sensitive temper which would glow at 
the slightest blowing. When he arrived in the city, conditions, 
it is true, were abnormal, but they were not so bad but that 
a wise administrator could get along without a quarrel with 
legislature, governor, and United States courts. 

When Jackson appeared, the legislature was generally loyal. 
Its quarrel with Claiborne was suppressed, but probably not 
forgotten. The Creoles, in the assembly and out, while not 
enthusiastic for a war to perpetuate American control, were 

'Parton, Jackson, II., chapter 22, deals fully with the execution of the militiamen. 


supporting it without difficulty. The state's quota of drafted 
miUtia was i,ooo and these were in the field by the time Jackson 
arrived in New Orleans, to say nothing of more than five hundred 
volunteers. After the British landed, the reserve militia was 
called out and responded to the number of several hundred,' 
The legislature voted liberal sums to clothe the Tennessee militia' 
and they promised to furnish Negroes to work on the fortifica- 
tions, although it seems that the United States paid wages to 
the masters." This attitude on the face indicates complaisance, 
although it was Jackson's opinion after the controversy was 
acute that they were not genuinely cordial. "On my arrival," 
he said, "I was flattered by the greetings of all; and while I 
returned to aU the salute of entire confidence, I must own that 
I manifested somewhat more than I felt. . . . Notwith- 
standing the great unanimity which appears, very generally to 
have prevailed among the inhabitants since my arrival, I am 
fearful that if reverses had overtaken us, or if disaffection could 
have hoped for favor I should have been compelled to witness 
a very different scene — I am fearful I shoidd have witnessed 
it, where it ought least to have been looked for.'" 

The refusal of the legislature to adjourn after the capture 
of the gunboats led Jackson to declare martial law, and in 
doing so he expressed his intention to remain master of the situa- 
tion. A week later the British surprised him by landing at 
VUler^'s. Taking this fact in connection with his inexperience 
many of the natives concluded that he had little military capacity. 
At this time a rumor began to run through the city that he in- 
tended, if forced to fall back, to burn the town and its large 
store of produce rather than have them fall into the hands of 
the enemy. The citizens were alarmed and began to think of 

'Claiborne to Jackson, November so. 1814, Jackson Mss. 
•Latour, Bistorical Memoir, 141, note 
'Jackson to Monroe, December 10, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
*Jackson to Monroe, Februaiy 17, i8is, Jackson Mss. 


their property. Some of them asked Capt. Thomas L, Butler, 
then in command in the place, what were his orders if compelled 
to evacuate the city. Butler refused to divulge his commands, 
and the ill-feehng increased. The citizens thought that the 
refusal confirmed their suspicions: Jackson behaved that the 
demand was made in connection with some concerted plan of 
action to save their property, by making terms with the enemy. 
The successful check of the British in the night battle alleviated 
the popular alarm, but it did not destroy it. 

It was, in fact, destined to have an early resurgence. De- 
cember 27th, Colonel Declouet, a prominent and loyal Creole 
citizen, and commander of a militia regiment then in service, 
had an interview with Speaker Guichard, of the house of rep- 
resentatives. The testimony of the two in a later investigation 
differs as to what was said in this conversation ; but it is evident 
that Declouet carried away the opinion that, if Jackson were 
defeated, the legislature would try to make terms with the British 
rather than have their city destroyed. He seems to have 
thought, also, that some steps would be taken by the leaders 
on the morning of the twenty-eighth. That was the morning 
when the enemy made their first demonstration against the 
American lines. It passed with great anxiety in New Orleans, 
for it was not believed that Jackson could hold his lines, then 
not more than half complete. Declouet, full of the common 
terror and weighed down by the secret he had gained from the 
speaker, rode to the camp to confide his opinion secretly to the 
commander-in-chief. When near there he met Abner Duncan, 
one of Jackson's several volunteer aides, a New Orleans lawyer 
of prominence, and through him sent his message to Jackson. 
Duncan had the misfortune to twist the words of his informant. 
Jackson declared that as he was riding across the field of battle, 
just before the advance of the enemy, he noticed Duncan much 
agitated, and askmg the cause of agitation the aide repUed that 


the governor had sent a message to the effect that the legislature 
was about to make terms with the enemy. The general ex- 
pressed doubt as to the correctness of the statement, but sent 
word to Claiborne, quoting from his statement to the legislature, 
"to make strict inquiry into the subject; and if true to blow 
them up.'" Riding away on this mission Dvmcan soon met 
Colonel Fortier, aide to Governor Claiborne, and by him for- 
warded the message. But he softened the words somewhat. 
Fortier returned toward the city, but met Claiborne on his way 
to the camp and said to him: " Major- General Jackson has 
received the information that the legislature is on the point of 
assembling to give up the coxmtry. His orders are that the 
governor should immediately dose the doors of the state house, 
surround it with guards, and fire on the members should they 
persist in assembUng." Claiborne was surprised at the in- 
formation, but executed the instructions without delay. Here 
we have an important matter transferred from Guichard to 
Declouet, then to Duncan, then to Jackson with his orders back 
to Duncan, then to Fortier, and finally to Claiborne; and at 
no stage in the process is it reduced to writing. All of these 
men gave evidence of what was said to them, and no two state- 
ments agree. It is easy to see that they were all in an agitated 
frame of mind that December morning. It is evident, also, 
that Jackson spoke truly when he said that his orders were 
"to blow them up," and Duncan, more level-headed at the mo- 
ment, was justified in modifying the command to simple ex- 
clusion from the legislative hall. 

December 29th, the exclusion was revoked and the legislature, 
humiliated and angry, resumed its sittings. Its first action 
was to appoint a committee to investigate recent events. Feb- 
ruary 6th, a report was adopted exonerating the body from 

ijackson's testimony is quoted in Gayarre, Bistory of Louisiana, IV., 540: it is confirmed by Plaucb£ to 
Phillips, January 17. 1843, Jackson Mss. 


treasonable designs. At the bottom of its lengthy testimony 
and diffuse summing up one finds no reason to think that the 
assembly were willing to surrender to the British without a 
battle. It is also evident that there was great anxiety among 
the people and legislators in regard to the general conviction 
that Jackson was prepared to destroy much property to prevent 
its falling into the hands of the enemy, and the legislature 
was disposed to prevent this. But it is difficult to see where 
they could draw the line between loyalty and treason. A 
capitulation when Jackson was in full flight would modify little 
the conduct of either the British or American General. A 
capitulation made before that time would not be accepted 
by Jackson; it would disorganize the American resistance, and 
it would, in fact, be disloyalty.' 

It is likely that Jackson would have destroyed the large 
amount of stores in the city, if forced to evacuate it, so as to 
make the place as useless as possible to the enemy in a military 
sense. The burning of Moscow was then fresh in the minds 
of men, and strenuous patriots like Jackson regarded it as a 
most praiseworthy deed. In 1824, he gave an account of an 
interview at this time with a delegation who came from the 
legislature to his camp to learn his intention in regard to burning 
the city. He says: "To them I replied: 'If I thought the 
hair of my head knew my thoughts, I would cut it off and burn 
it' — to return to their honorable body, and say to them from 
me, that if I was to be so unfortunate as to be driven from the 
lines I then occupied, and compelled to retreat through New 
Orleans, they would have a warm session of it.'" 

At this stage the quarrel with the legislature merges into 
a controversy with the governor. At first Jackson and Clai- 

'For a discussion of this incident see Martin, History oj Louisiana, passim, and Gayarre, IV., S39-S77. 
who is more judicious. 

'Jackson to the postmaster general, March 22, 1824; Affidavit of T. L. Butler, May 23, 1815 ; Jackson Mss. 
Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 563. 


borne cooperated cordially; but after martial law was pro- 
claimed on December i6th, they became less harmonious. 
Claiborne, commander-in-chief of the militia, now found him- 
self subordinate to a man whose nature it was to demand im- 
plicit obedience. Probably without reaUzing it, the governor 
reacted against his own occultation, while conscious that he 
gave himself unreservedly to the defense of the state. A sense 
of wounded dignity, a rather morbid disposition to make a virtue 
of self-effacement, and various intermittent fits of self-assertion 
aU united to put him into an agitated state of mind. 
Jackson, in the meantime, always self-satisfied, bending 
himself and aU others whom he could reach to the one task 
before him, caring little for the feehngs or foibles of others, 
moved forward imperiously and even contemptuously — when 
he might have well shown some forbearance — and thus at last 
the governor forgot his old poUtical enemies and came to sup- 
port the legislature in the struggle against military domination. 

Claiborne attributed his loss of favor to the influence of 
the volunteer aides, whom Jackson appointed on December 17th, 
all former enemies of the governor. "These men," he said at 
the time, "will do me much harm if the General suffers himself 
to be imposed upon." Claiborne soon found confirmation of 
his suspicions. December 23d, while troops were hurrying 
to meet the British at Viller^'s plantation, the governor, of his 
own initiative, set out for the front at the head of three Louisiana 
regiments. He was met by an order from the general to take 
position on the Gentilly Road. He complied, but considered 
the order part of a plan to keep him in the background.' 

The first evidence of a strained relation is in a letter from 
Claiborne to Jackson, December 22, 1814. "The times require 
our union," says the governor, "nor is there anything I more 
desire than to maintain with you, the most friendly under- 

•Gayane, Louisiana, IV., sgfi- 


standing, and a cooperation zealous and cordial. With this 
object in view I request of you a private interview on this day, 
at such hour as may suit your convenience.'" 

Jackson's reply, if he made one, is not preserved in his papers; 
but the governor continued to cooperate as cordially as possible. 
With the general, Claiborne pledged his joint credit to buy 
blankets for the soldiers.' Until January 17th, he remained 
in command of the Louisiana militia encamped on the Gentilly 
Road; and after that date he assumed command of the state 
miUtia on the west bank and maintained a semblance of order 
in that quarter until the disappearance of danger.' Jackson's 
attitude toward him was unbending, and when during the 
battle of January 8th, the governor was found in safety at the 
hospital he took pleasure in attributing it to cowardice.' 

As military affairs lost some of their prominence the civil 
government began to think of resuming its functions. But 
Jackson continued to exercise martial law with its absolute 
authority, always strengthening the defenses of the city, and 
embodying the reserved militia tUl at the end of January he had 
twice as many armed men as on the eighth of the month. The 
prolongation of martial law was borne without open protest 
by the civil authorities until the receipt of unofficial information 
of the treaty of peace; but there was suppressed friction and 
in regard to the recovery of the slaves an explosion seemed for 
some time to be imminent. 

While the British were before New Orleans, 199 slaves took 
refuge on the fleet expecting to be carried away on it.' This 
must have been done with the consent of some higher ofl&cers, 
although General Lambert, whose generally honorable conduct 

'Jackson Mss. 

•Claiborne to Jackson, December 22, 1814, Jackson Mss. 
'Claiborne to Jackson, January 16 and 17, i8is, Jackson Mss. 

<T. L. Butler to Claibome, December 31, 1814; certificates of Dr. Eer and Major Davezac, April 6, 1 815, 
Jackson Mss. 
'Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., sii. 


entitles him to full credence, said that he knew nothing of if 
until he returned to the fleet after he evacuated his camp at 
Villerfi's plantation. He immediately wrote to Jackson saying 
he had taken pains to persuade the Negroes to return to their 
homes and offering to deliver them to their masters if the fugitives 
could be got to return voluntarily. He said that as the British 
law did not recognize slavery he did not feel authorized to force 
them to leave against their wills.' Jackson replied immediately 
and appointed Captain Henly to receive the slaves, but nothing 
was done and unofficial information led him to believe that 
their surrender was hardly to be hoped for. Early in February, 
he sent Edward Livingston and Manuel White to receive the 
fugitives, but Lambert would not force the slaves to depart and 
all the messengers could say would not lead them to give up the 
near prospect of freedom. From that time there was much 
correspondence between the two commanders on the subject, 
but nothing was gained. The Americans claimed that the clause 
in the treaty for the restoration of property would apply to the 
slaves, and the British asserted that they could not recognize 
the slaves as property but as individuals who came voluntarily 
into the British lines.' The matter was afterward referred to 
arbitration by Russia, who on the interpretation of the treaty 
gave judgment for the United States.' 

Negotiations with the British army properly fell within the 
scope of the military authority, but the civil government was 
not able to keep hands off when the recovery of the slaves 
was at stake. January 31st, a week after Jackson first wrote 
to Lambert on the subject, he received a letter from Claiborne 

'Lambert to Jackson, January 20, 1815, Jackson Mss. 

«The following letters on this subject are in the appendix of Latour, Eistorical Memoir, at the pages indi- 
cated, and those noted with a J are in the Jackson Mss.: Jackson to Lambert, March 7, page 99; March 13, 
page loo; Lambert to Jackson, February 8, page 82 and J; February 27, page 93 and J; March 18, page 120 
and J: Jackson to Cochrane, February 20, i>age 85 and J; Woodruff to Jackson, March 23, page xig and J. 
See also Jackson to Lambert, February 4, Jackson Mss. All these letters are dated 1815. See also Gayarre 
History of Louisiana, IV., 511. 

'Moore, International ArMlration, I., chapter XI., pages 350-390. 




f. ^^T^^C: ,' < ^^.^ j: K Cf y^''^ '-V t.) 2^ ^, ,<-><< ^<^ ^ 


'l / >vt,«,* 

XV .-L t <>i> <-<- ^■j^T_<^-,- '< of /lilt i f >t,it^^ 1- /^/''^•^a.ti^ 

*^i^f* "^^-^'f ^^- * ^^fe-r^ /--/. 

'/'^r ''''''/s/5\' 

a, ^':?^^-//<ri ^. 

,^ ^-r4. 

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From a miniature on ivory by Jean Francois Vallee. It was painted in New Orleans just after the victory over 
the British. The artist, a Frenchman, has managed to give his subject a Napoleonic countenance 


asking what was accomplished in the matter and saying that 
he himself would make application by three distinguished 
citizens. Jackson resented this interference and caused his 
adjutant-general to write a stiff reply announcing Henly's 
appointment and adding that it seemed that nothing would 
be done by the British. Claiborne laid the correspondence 
before the legislature, which approved of his course and ap- 
pointed a commission of four members to make personal appli- 
cation to Lambert.' Aroused by this prospect of two negotia- 
tions Jackson hurried off Livingston and White, as has been said, 
and we hear nothing more of the plans of the civil authorities. 
But he let it be known that he would have no meddling. "Be 
assured," he said to Claiborne, "if either the assembly or yourself 
attempt to interfere with subjects not belonging to you, it will 
be immediately arrested. I am pledged for the protection of 
this District, having the responsibility I trust I know my duty 
and will perform it.'" 

Just at this time the legislature was completing its investi- 
gation of its suspension on December 28th. Jackson probably 
thought that they were about to deal severely with him, for, 
on February 6th, in a sharp note to the governor, he demanded 
a copy of the report they were about to make, repeating his 
demand two days later and threatening, if it were not comphed 
with, to hold an investigation himself.' The menace was prob- 
ably intended to induce the legislature to make a mild report; 
and if that was the purpose it succeeded. When the report 
was handed to him on the fifteenth' it completely exonerated 
Jackson and threw the blame on other shoulders. Not even 
the benign Gayarre is able to reconcile it with the known atti- 
tude of the assembly at that time toward the commander of 

'Claiborne to Jackson, February 4, 1815, Jackson Mss. 

•Jackson to Claiborne, February 3, 1815, Jackson Mss. 

'Jackson to Claiborne, February 8, 1815, Jackson Mss. Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 555. 

•Secretary Louisiana senate to Jackson, February is, 1815, Jackson Mss, 


the seventh miUtary district.' The situation seems more singular 
when we remember that on February 2d, the assembly voted 
its thanks to every prominent contributor to the recent success 
but the chief one. When Carroll, Adair, Coffee, and Thomas 
received this token of public appreciation and Jackson received 
no notice, the omission was too pointed to be misunderstood. 

The assembly adjourned early in February, and its quarrel, 
soon forgotten, was followed by trouble of another kind. Jack- 
son would not disband the army while the enemy were in force 
on the coast. The Tennesseeans and Kentuckians did not 
complain of this lengthened service, but the volatile Louisi- 
anians bore it with impatience. The reserved militia were 
first dissatisfied, and the governor appealed to Jackson to dis- 
charge them.' The detached rmlitia manifested their feeling 
by leaving their commands with or without leave until companies 
were reduced to mere skeletons. A sharp reprimand from Jack- 
son checked the practice, but did not remove its cause. Soon the 
Creoles thought of another expedient. Repairing to the French 
consul, Toussard, they registered themselves as French citizens 
and applied to Jackson for discharges from military service. 
The demands were granted until they became so numerous 
that the trick was evident. Then the general dealt with them 
in a characteristic manner. February 28th, he ordered all 
French citizens to retire to a distance of 120 mUes from the 
city. The command produced consternation: Toussard pro- 
tested to Governor Claiborne, who replied that he could do 
nothing and referred him to the federal courts. When Jackson 
learned of this he ordered the consul out of the city. There 
was much excitement among the Creoles, and on March 3d, 
there appeared in the city paper an anonymous letter protesting 
in severe terms agamst the order concerning the French. It 

•Gayarre, Louisiana, IV., 556-558. 

'Claiborne to Jackson, February 24, 1815, Jackson Mss. 


amounted to defiance of the military power which it denounced, 
and the writer could only have expected to have a bout with 
that authority. Jackson left him in little suspense. Learning 
that the objectionable letter was written by Louaillier, a member 
of the assembly — who had been a loyal supporter of the cam- 
paign — he directed his arrest by a file of soldiers. Counsel 
for Louaillier at once applied to the state courts for his release 
on a writ of habeas corpus. The request was refused on the 
ground of no jurisdiction. LouaiUier then made his demand 
of Dominick A. Hall, the federal district judge, an unbending 
defender of his ofl&cial dignity and authority. He was not 
submissive to the proclamation of martial law in the first in- 
stance and accepted the opportunity to try his strength with 
the commander-in-chief. He granted Louaillier's request, stipu- 
lating that Jackson should have notice before the writ was 
served on him. When the general received this notice he wrote 
the following order to one of his subordinates: 

Having received proof that Dominick A. Hall has been aiding 
and abetting and exciting mutiny within my camp, you will 
forthwith order a detachment to arrest and confine him, and 
report to me as soon as arrested. You will be vigilant; the 
agents of our enemy are more numerous than was expected. 
You wiU guard against escapes. 

This order was to be expected, but the insinuation that Hall 
was an agent of the enemy was discreditable to Jackson's 

Just at this time came a messenger from Washington with an 
important letter for the general and an open order to postmasters 
to facilitate the progress of the bearer of news of peace. Jack- 
son eagerly broke the seal and found that by some error the 
wrong letter was en :iosed. The instructions to the postmasters 

'Louaillier's communication and the orders for arrest are given by Parton, Jackson, II., 309-316, but 
Paiton gives no suggestion of Jackson's wrongheaded attitude in the week which followed. 


and the word of the messenger made it evident that the war was 
over, but Jackson would not relax martial law. His only con- 
cessions were to dismiss the Louisiana reserved militia and to 
repeal his order for the exclusion of the French residents, an 
order which had not been obeyed. Hall was kept in prison 
and when the district-attorney applied to a state judge for his 
release on habeas corpus proceedings, both attorney and judge 
were ordered under arrest. 

The situation was grave. The people of New Orleans were 
generally for the civil government, and the officers who filled 
the streets and coffee-houses were for the mihtary authority. 
Public meetings were held by the citizens, and officers and 
citizens came to the point of blows when a group of the latter 
tore down an illuminated picture of Jackson in a house of public 
entertainment. Claiborne, at last at the head of a popular 
movement, contended for the integrity of the civil power and 
instructed the Louisiana attorney-general to resume his fimctions 
and protect the citizens from mihtary arrests. 

At this point came Louaillier's trial by a court-martial, pre- 
sided over by General Gaines, who had recently arrived. The 
letter published on the third was made the basis of seven charges, 
one of which was that LouaiUier was a spy. The accused urged 
that as he was not in the army or mihtia he was without the 
jurisdiction of a court-martial. The court allowed the plea 
with reference to every charge except that of being a spy, and 
acquitted him on that because he was not found lurking about 
the camp or fortifications. No court with a sense of humor 
would seriously consider the charge that a spy would pubUsh 
a letter like the defendant's in the colimms of a newspaper 
which appeared in the very camp of the commander against 
which it was hurled. 

The sentence of the court displeased Jackson. March loth 
he reviewed it in general orders and gave his view of the nature 


and scope of martial law. This is a subject about which military 
men are apt to differ from the jurists, and the war of 18 12 was 
the first under the constitution in which it came up for adjust- 
ment. Commanders were inclined to follow the English prec- 
edents which gave wide interpretation to martial law, making 
it nearly identical with the will of the general. In every case 
which arose in this war and went to the courts for revision, the 
judges overthrew this view and annoimced limitations which 
sought to make martial law as little arbitrary as possible. It 
was not until the Civil War era that the subject received definite 
statement in the case ex parte Milligan.' In his general orders 
Jackson took the older and broader view. Making no distinc- 
tion between a military commission and a court-martial he held 
that the latter could take cognizance of violations of martial 
as well as military law and that it had jurisdiction over cases 
of mutiny. He, therefore, set aside the sentence of Gaines's 
court-martial and retained LouailHer in prison. Realizing 
that it was useless to try Hall before the court-martial which 
had acquitted LouailHer he sent him, March 12th, out of the 
city with orders not to return until peace was regularly an- 
nounced or the enemy had departed from the coast. The next 
day came ofl&cial news that the treaty was ratified. Jackson 
revoked martial law immediately and released his prisoners. 
Toussard and Judge Hall came back to town amid the acclama- 
tions of the populace and Jackson prepared to send home the 
detached militia from Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky.' 

Hall, whom his friends described as " a magistrate of pure 
heart, clean hands, and a mind susceptible of no fear but that 
of God,'" was determined to vindicate the majesty of the civil 
government. Waiting until the rejoicings over peace were 

'United States Supreme Court's Reports, 4, Wallace, a. 

These incidents are described by Gayarre, Lojiisiam, IV., chapter n.with evident Jaimess. See also 
Martin, History of Louisiana. 
■Maitin, History 0} Louisiana, II., 416. 


expended, he issued on March 21st, an order summoning Jackson 
into court to show why he should not be held in contempt for 
his recent refusal to recognize the court's writ of habeas corpus. 
March 27th, Jackson appeared in company with Major Reid, 
one of his aides. He submitted a written statement of reasons 
why he was not in contempt and withdrew, leaving Reid to 
read the paper. The reading of it was hardly begun when the 
court interrupted to ask the nature of what followed. Reid 
repKed that it came within the scope of rules the court had 
laid down. Upon this the judge announced that he would take 
advice and suspended the sitting until the next day. On re- 
assembling Reid was not allowed to proceed and argument was 
heard. Jackson's counsel would offer none since he protested 
the jurisdiction of the court. After argument by the prosecution 
court adjourned until the next day, when Jackson came in 
person with a written protest against the sentence which was 
about to be given. 

Among Jackson's papers is a draft of this protest in the hand- 
writing of Abner L. Duncan, one of the volimteer aides and a 
lawyer of ability: It runs: "I will not answer interrogatories. 
I may have erred, but my motives cannot be misinterpreted. 
. . . The law can be satisfied without wounding my feeUngs 
whose dictates under such circumstances, I most candidly ac- 
knowledge, it would be difficult, if not impossible to restrain." 
This apologetic statement was not used. The protest which 
was offered survives in the handwriting of Reid and runs: "I 
will not answer interrogatories. When called upon to show 
cause why an attachment for contempt of this court ought not 
to run against me, I offered to do so. You have, nevertheless, 
thought proper to refuse me this constitutional right. You 
would not hear my defense although you were advised that it 
contained su£&cient causes to show that no attachment ought 
to run. Under these circumstances I appear before your Honor 


to receive the sentence of the court, and with nothing further 
to add. Your Honor wUl not understand me as meaning any 
disrespect to the court by the remarks I make; but as no op- 
portunity has been furnished me to explain the reasons and mo- 
tives which influenced my conduct, so it is expected that censure 
will form no part of that punishment which your Honor may 
imagine it your duty to perform." ' 

Before this dignified protest Judge Hall bore himself with 
equal credit. In imposing a fine of $1,000, he remarked that 
the duty was unpleasant, that he could not forget the important 
services of the defendant to the country, and that in consideration 
thereof he would not make imprisonment a part of punishment. 
"The only question," he added, "was whether the Law should 
bend to the General or the General to the Law," and under such 
conditions the court could not hesitate an instant. Jackson 
paid the fine, and when his admirers raised the amount for him 
by popular subscription he waived it aside with characteristic 
generosity asking that the sum be used to relieve the families 
of those who fell in defense of the city. At the final hearing 
Jackson's friends offered in court an account of the trial from 
his standpoint and requested that it might go into the record. 
Hall refused the request, remarking that he did not wish to 
encumber the record and saying, as they reported, "that he 
knew what we would be at." 

Jackson's bearing at the trial was as excellent as his protest, 
which has been quoted. When he appeared, he was followed 
by an excited crowd of supporters, soldiers, and civilians, among 
them a number of Baratarians who had cause to remember 
the frown of Judge HaU. When these persons faced the court 
they raised a great shout of defiance. Jackson quickly rose to 
his feet, faced the rabble, and, with a splendid look and gesture, 
awed it into respectful silence. Then bowing to the bench he 

>See Jackson Mss. 


resumed his seat. After the sentence was announced he was 
drawn in a carriage by his admirers to the Exchange Coffee- 
House, where he spoke in the following excellent manner: "I 
have during the invasion exerted every one of my faculties for 
the defense and preservation of the constitution and the laws. 
On this day I have been called on to submit to their operation 
under circiunstarices which many persons might have thought 
sufficient to justify resistance. Considering obedience to the 
laws, even when we think them unjustly applied, as the first 
duty of the citizen, I did not hesitate to comply with the sentence 
you have heard, and I entreat you to remember the example 
I have given you of respectful submission to the administration 
of justice.' 

This was Jackson at his best, and, even if it was due to the 
suggestions of his advisers, it did him credit. Unfortunately, 
it was marred by an early return to what an opponent termed 
"an obstinate and morbidly irascible temperament." A few 
days later he published the statement which the judge refused 
to admit to the record with a preface in which he attacked Hall 
in a severe personal manner. He charged and offered to prove, 
if the judge denied it, certain objectionable things: the chal- 
lenge was accepted, in a prompt newspaper utterance, but 
Jackson failed to pursue it further.' 

Amid the rejoicing that followed the end of the campaign the 
quarrel with Hall was discounted and soon forgotten. The 
American people cared Uttle for the ruffled feelings of a judge 
whom they believed too punctilious, and they were ready to 
forgive much to him who defeated Pakenham. The incident, 
therefore, left Jackson's glory undiminished, except in the pages 
of history, where it is a warning that a general must use martial 

'Gsyarre, Louisiana, IV., 6as, Martin, History of Louisiana, passim, and Reidjand Eaton, Jackson, 419. 
The account in the last diSeis in some respects from that which Martin, a contemporary, gives, and which 
Gayarre follows. 

sGayarre, Louisiana, IV., 626. 


law moderately and an example to encourage a just, judge to 
maintain the supremacy of the laws. 

While this affair transpired, Jackson was preparing to return 
to Nashville. During the last weeks of his stay Mrs. Jackson 
was his visitor. She was a striking figure in the social life of 
the gay French city. As her husband was the soul of honesty 
and primitive honor, she was the essence of kind-heartedness 
and reUgious devotion. Accustomed to the best position in 
the less poUshed society of Tennessee, they took with ease, 
if not with grace, a similar position in New Orleans, where they 
were long remembered with kindness. April 6th, they set out 
for Nashville, received at every stopping place with demon- 
strations of joy. Cities gave dinners and legislatures voted 
swords and addresses. From that time Jackson was the 
"Hero of New Orleans." 

Reports of Jackson's clash with Judge Hall reached Wash- 
ington and some persons demanded that he be court-martialed. 
As soon as he received intimations of this from Madison and 
Dallas, secretary of war, he set out for Washington to im- 
peach HaU, first sending his informant severe letters in denim- 
ciation of his opponents. In the capital both President and 
secretary were complaisant, and the latter in a letter justified 
all that the general had done. But there was an interview 
in which the superior officer offered, as Jackson says, "a chart 
blank, approving my whole preceedings." He then abandoned 
his plan to impeach the judge.' 

In the spring of 181 5, the army was reorganized on a peace 
footing. Two divisions were created with a major-general 
over each. Jackson was given the command in the South and 
Gen. Jacob Brown in the North. From his headquarters 
at Nashville he directed the distribution and operations of the 

'Jackson to Kendall, June i8, 1843, CinciimaU Commercial, February s, 1879. 


forces south of the Ohio. Brigadier-General Gaines commanded 
on the Florida frontier, where there was most danger; and his 
superior might remain for long periods at the "Hermitage," 
enjoying the honor and comfort to which his high services en- 
titled him.' 

'Untied Stales Slalules al LartC III., 134. 



General Gaines was well pleased to command on the south- 
eastern frontier. Both Indian affairs and our relations with 
Spain made active service in this region seem probable. The 
fugitive Creeks, held in check during the winter of 1814-15, 
were still hostile and waiting for an opportunity to renew the 
struggle. It was evident to most men that the United States 
must soon have Florida; and the Southwest viewed skeptically 
President Monroe's long drawn out diplomacy to that end, 
behaving that force would eventually be employed. Jackson 
shared these opinions and enjoyed the prospect of becoming 
the agent who would make Florida American territory. 

Of these two probable events the most imminent was war 
with the Creeks. During the recent struggle the British took 
the Creeks under their protection, leading them to think that 
the lands would be restored which were lost by the treaty of 
Fort Jackson. Had the British campaign in Louisiana been 
successful, some attempts to execute this promise would doubt- 
less have been made. But the treaty of Ghent was silent on the 
subject, and the savages were forced to assume the appearance 
of peace. 

A clause of this treaty provided that the United States should 
surrender all lands taken during the struggle from any Indians 
with whom they should be at war when the treaty was signed. 
The British may have had the Creeks in mind when the clause 
was written, but it could make no impression on the United States, 
since they held that the treaty of Fort Jackson, August, 1814, 



ended the war with these Indians. The fugitive Creeks re- 
pudiated the agreement made at Fort Jackson, but England 
was not disposed to insist on an interpretation friendly to their 
position. The savages hardly concealed their disappointment, 
and certain representatives of Great Britain, who remained 
with them, worked to keep it alive, through either good or bad 
intentions, until it should at last lead to open war. They 
assured the ignorant red men that England would see justice 
done them and the treaty be put into operation. 

When Colonel Nicholls arrived in Florida in the summer of 
1 814, he was accompanied by Capt. George Woodbine,' 
to whom was assigned the work of organizing, training, and 
leading the corps of red men whom it was intended to employ. 
Arms and uniforms were distributed liberally, and soon seven 
hundred warriors were enlisted. This produced consternation on 
the border, where the inhabitants thought that a white man who 
would lead Indians against white men was nearly as bad as one 
who would organize Negroes against white men. Captain 
Woodbine — "the notorious Woodbine" he was called — be- 
came exceedingly unpopular and much regret was expressed 
that he did not fall into American hands during Jackson's second 
dash into Florida. A great deal of the wrath which sprang up 
on his account found vicarious outlet in the death of Arbuthnot 
and Ambrister. 

Colonel Nicholls accompanied the British to New Orleans 
but took no part in the battle. After their departure from the 
coast he returned to Florida and resumed his course as friend 
to the Indians. He hoped to perpetuate British influence and 
in the spring of 181 5 made an offensive and defensive alliance 
with them in behalf of his sovereign. So far as this related to 
Indians resident within the borders of the United States it could 

^December 30, 1814, he signed himself "Captain 1st Battalion Royal Marines, and British Agent at the 
Talapues," American State Papers, Foreign, IV., 4gi. 


have no force, and if ratified by the English government it must 
have produced trouble. He repaired the fort built the preceding 
year on the Apalachicola, stored it abundantly with arms and 
ammunition, and presented it to his allies as a base of future 
operations. He sought to give them, also, a better form of 
organization. At a great assembly of chiefs he spoke effectively 
of the duty of punishing Indians who wronged white men and 
succeeded in getting the Creeks to appoint administrative 
officers to restrain such offenders; and he encouraged Indians 
who had grievances against white men to bring their cases to 
him. After investigating such complaints he would appeal 
for justice to Colonel Hawkins, the United States agent among 
the Creeks. It is conceivable that a benevolent man in this 
position might under ideal conditions have exerted a fortunate 
influence on the relations between the two races; but NichoUs's 
spirit was not benevolent, his reputation was sinister, the situa- 
tion was unpropitious, and his letters to Hawkins were so posi- 
tive that the Americans considered them arrogant. To the 
people of the frontier he was an irritating intermeddler. 

An illustration is the case of Bowlegs, a Seminole chief, who 
complained that the Americans had killed some of his men and 
driven off some of their cattle. Nicholls heard the case and 
May 12th, wrote to Hawkins. He recounted the wrongs of 
Bowlegs' and added: 

Now, sir, if these enormities are suffered to be carried on 
in a Christian country, what are you to expect by showing 
such an example to the uncultivated native of the woods? (For 
savage I will not call them — their conduct entitles them to a 
better epithet.) I have, however, ordered them to stand on the 
defensive, and have sent them a large supply of arms and ammuni- 
tion, and told them to put to death, without mercy, any one 

'This chief signed himself "Bolick, chief of the Seminole Nation at Sahwahna," American StatePafers, 
Foreign, IV,, 493, but he was generally called "Bowlegs" by the whites. 


molesting them; but at all times to be careful and not put a 
foot over the American line. In the mean time that I should 
complain to you; that I was convinced you would do your 
best to curb such infamous conduct. Also that those people 
who have done such deeds would, I was convinced, be disowned 
by the government of the United States and severely punished. 
They have given their consent to await your answer before 
they take revenge; but, sir, they are impatient for it, and well 
armed as the whole nation now is, and stored with ammunition 
and provisions, having a stronghold to retire upon in case of a 
superior force appearing, picture to yourself, sir, miseries that 
may be suffered by good and innocent citizens on your frontiers, 
and I am sure you wUl lend me your best aid in keeping the bad 
spirits in subjection. ... I am also desired to say to you, 
by the chiefs, that they do not find that your citizens are evacuat- 
ing their lands, according to the ninth article of the treaty of 
peace, but that they were fresh provisioning the forts. This 
point, sir, I beg of you to look into. They also request me to 
inform you that they have signed a treaty of offensive and de- 
fensive alliance with Great Britain, as well as one of commerce 
and navigation, which, as soon as it is ratified at home, you shall 
be made more fuUy acquainted with.' 

When this letter was written, the Americans were preparing 
to run the Hne which, by the treaty of Fort Jackson, would 
separate the lands retained by the Creeks from those ceded to 
the United States, General Coffee being one of the commis- 
sioners. The Indians were greatly excited, and Big Warrior 
was reported to be urging the Choctaws to join his people in 
a war against the whites. General Gaines, with i,ooo men 
under him, felt none too strong to handle the situation. While 
he called for 5,000 men to reduce the Indians to a condition in 
which they would be either "friendly or harmless" he proposed 
to gain time by holding a council. He met the chiefs on June 
7, 181 5, and by much persuasion and the distribution of pro- 

Mmencsn Slate Pafers, Porngn, IV., S4Q- 


visions softened their temper slightly; but his own confidence 
in the situation was not restored. Nicholls, also, was actively 
brewing discord. What he said to the Indians is not reported, 
but it may be inferred from a letter of June 12 th, repudiating 
the treaty of Fort Jackson and warning the whites that they 
would occupy the ceded district at their peril." 

Gaines called on the governor of Georgia for troops and when 
the commissioners to run the line met in the autumn at the 
confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers he had 800 men 
on the spot. This show of force cowed the Creeks, and the 
surveyors proceeded without opposition; but the suUen savages 
muttered that there would be trouble when settlers appeared 
on the lands.' This state of irritation bore the usual fruits. 
Indians raided the white settlements, taking Ufe and property, 
and as soon as claims were staked out in the disputed region 
reports of outrages began to go northward. 

In the simimer of 181 5, Nicholls returned to England about 
the same time that the American government forwarded thither 
a protest against his ambitious schemes with the Indians. Lord 
Bathurst lost no time in repudiating the plans of the intermeddler, 
although the chiefs who accompanied him were received with 
prudent flattery in both official and xmofl&cial circles. One 
of them, the prophet Francis, was made a brigadier-general in 
the royal service and received at court in a brave red uniform. 
He was given money and other presents and returned to Florida 
in the following year confident that he was in high favor with 
his new friends and protectors. These occurrences were cal- 
culated to create as much misapprehension among the Ameri- 
cans as among the too credulous Indians. 

Meanwhile Colonel Nicholls's red friends showed how little 

^Gaines to Jackson, June 8 and October 8, 1815, Jackson Mss. Nicholls to Hawkins, June;i2, 1815, Jackson 

^Benjamin Hawkins to Jackson, December i and 8, 1815; Gaines to Jackson, November'4, 1815; Gaines 
to Governor Early, October 13, 1815; Jackson Mss. 


they were able to profit from his help by losing control of the 
fort he had given them. In northern Florida a band of fugitive 
American Negro slaves were organized for their own protection. 
They hated the Seminoles, who were accustomed to hunt them 
down and deliver them to their former masters. They had a 
good leader named Garfon and at an auspicious moment seized 
the fort on the Apalachicola with its 3,000 muskets, carbines, 
and pistols, its 763 barrels of gunpowder, its 300 kegs of rifle- 
powder, and its ample supply of ball and other necessaries;' 
and they held it against all the efforts of the Indians to retake 
it. They encouraged other fugitives to join them, raided across 
the border, and made the "Negro Fort" a menace to the slave 
property of southern Georgia. Even the Spanish authorities 
looked upon it with apprehension. 

Gaines was alarmed at the situation and offered the Semi- 
noles fifty dollars for each Negro captive if they took the fort. 
Jackson, also, took up the matter and was pleased when the 
government ordered him to destroy the place if the Spaniards 
would not do it.' He wrote to the governor of Pensacola ex- 
pressing such a determination and asking if the "Negro Fort" 
was under the protection of the King of Spain. The reply 
convinced him that Spain would make no serious objection if 
the Americans suppressed the banditti.^ The prospect of 
energetic action pleased him, but before he could make a move 
a terrific accident removed the object of solicitude. 

The Americans were building Fort Scott on the Apalachicola 
just north of the Florida line. In July, 1816, four vessels, two 
of them gunboats, came up the river with supplies for this work. 
Gaines took the precaution to send Colonel Clinch with 116 
men to act as escort, but with orders not to attack the Negroes, 
unless they should first open fire. Near the fort he met a body 

^American State Papers, Foreign, IV., 560. 

'Gaines to Jackson, May 14, 1816; Crawford to Jackson, March 15, 1S16, Jackson Mss. 

■Governor Mauricio de Funigia to Jackson, May 26, i8t6, Jackson Mss. 


of Seminoles hunting for Negro captives and the two bands 
joined forces. From a captured bandit Clinch learned that 
several days earlier Garjon seized and slew a boat's crew from 
the four American vessels, which now lay at the mouth of the 
river. Considering this an attack within the meaning of his 
instructions he invested the hated fort and ordered the gun- 
boats to come up the river. The Negroes gathered their women 
and children in the place and showed their contempt for their 
opponents by wildly firing their thirty-two pounders into the 
forest. After several days of this pantomime the gunboats 
were warped up the river against adverse winds and on July 
27th, opened fire. Their small solid shot made no impression 
on the strong English built walls, and hot shot were secured. 
The first one of these had the fortune to penetrate a large maga- 
zine within the fort and there was a terrific explosion, which 
cost the lives of 270 of the inmates and wounded sixty-one more. 
Of the 334 occupants only three escaped unhurt. One of these 
was Garjon, who was hanged in retaliation for tarring and 
burning one of the crew of the captured boat of the whites. One 
unfavorable complication clouded this overwhelming success. 
Clinch had promised the cooperating Seminoles the arms 
taken from the fort, and he could hardly do otherwise since 
they were originally Seminole property. Many were found in 
the ruins and handed over to the red men. These guns were 
later used by the Indians against the Americans.' 

The Negro menace was now gone but the Indian discontent 
remained. The unhappy Creeks realized their helplessness. 
When Gaines appeared on the border to lay out the walls of 
Fort Scott he called the neighborhood chiefs to a council. They 
took the pipe of peace with Hstlessness saying, as he reported, 
"that they were too poor to oppose us and therefore had deter- 

>See leport of Sailing-mastei Loomis commanding the gunboats that destroyed the foit, American Stale 
Papers, ForeiiH, IV., SS9- 


mined to sit still and hold down their heads.'" But some un- 
bending spirits among them took up the tomahawk, slew white 
men, and escaped to Florida. Then the indignation of the settlers 
was aroused and thoughout Georgia and Alabama ran a demand 
for war. Desperate white men made reprisals and one of the 
slain was "a beloved woman." When her murderers were 
arrested they were released on a writ of habeas corpus. Gaines 
ordered their re-imprisonment and placed them in the same 
jail with some Indians held for killing white persons.' But 
this was unusual justice, and the Creeks were dismayed at the 
inequity of their ordinary treatment. "If the Indian murderers," 
said Big Warrior,writing to Jackson in reference to another case, 
"were as completely in my power as this murderer was in yours, 
you should see what I should have done for him."' 

By March, 1817, several thousand white people were settled on 
the rich lands taken from the Creeks. They came with the 
heedless haste characteristic of the first comers in a new region 
and soon suffered for lack of supplies.* This hardship made 
the increasing Indian depredations seem heavier. When the 
Indians demanded punishment for the slayers of their brethren 
they were told that no white man would be killed for slaying 
an outlaw. Then the savages renewed their depredations. 
The whites demanded that the responsible parties be given up. 
Then ten Indian towns united and sent their defiance. Ten 
red men, they said, had been killed, and only seven whites : let 
the Americans know that three more white men must die before 
scores would be even. The message, as Gaines reported to Wash- 
ington, was really a declaration of hostilities.' 

About this stage in the story Alexander Arbuthnot becomes 
prominent. This intelligent and benevolent Scotch trader 

^Gaines to Jackson, April i8, 1816, Jackson Mss. 
^Gaines to Jackson, June 3, 1817, Jackson Mss. 
^April 16, X817, Jackson Mss. 
*Gaines to Jackson, March 6, 1817, Jackson Mss. 
^Gaines to Jackson, October x, 1817, Jackson Mss. 


appeared in Florida early in 181 7. Interested in the welfare 
of the Creeks he became both trader and political adviser, 
assuming in the latter relation almost exactly the position 
formerly occupied by NichoUs. They trusted him and gave 
him a power of attorney to treat for them. When the Ameri- 
cans in July proposed a conference he replied in behalf of one 
of the chiefs partly as follows : 

I have received your letter requiring me to attend you to 
hear a talk authorized by the President of America. It is not 
convenient for me to attend personally, but I wiU pay every 
attention to your talk if you wiU send it to me in writing, and 
I assure you by this, that it is my wish to be good friends with 
the Americans, as weU as all other people. I beg you to attend 
to no foolish talk or reports, that me or any of my people wish 
to disturb the Americans who do not encroach on us. We are 
peaceable and wish to let others be so; but there are people 
with the Nation who make trouble. Listen not to them.' 

In taking up the work of Nicholls, Arbuthnot assumed the 
former's unpopularity with the whites, and the day was to come 
when he would rue it. Gaines pronounced him "one of those 
self-styled philanthropists who have long infested our neigh- 
boring Indian villages in the character of British agents.'"' 
The people of the frontier identified him with "the notorious 
Woodbine," and there were some who considered him the same 
individual under an assumed name. Among the latter was 
Niles, editor of the famous Baltimore weekly, The Register. He 
published a letter from Arbuthnot to the commandant of Fort 
Gaines in which the writer said: "The head chiefs request I 
will enquire of you why American settlers are descending the 
Chattahoochee, driving the poor Indian from his habitations, 
and taking possession of his home and cultivated fields." He 

'See Gaines to Jackson, July lo, 1817, Jackson Mss. 
'Gaines to Jackson, April 2, 1817, Jackson Mss. 


appealed, he said, in the name of humanity and not by authority, 
but he gave warning that the British government would send 
to see "that the boundary Unes, as marked out by the treaty, 
were not infringed." Niles, reprinting this letter, pronounced 
it "about as impudent a thing as we ever saw," adding that if 
Arbuthnot were captured he should be punished "with far less 
pity than is due to a sheep-kilUng dog."' In November, 1817, 
Gaines said that the hostile Indians numbered 2,000 with 400 

While relations with the Indians were thus becoming war- 
like, the old irritation against Spain, overshadowed for a time 
by the campaign in Louisiana, sprang again into vigorous life. 
Jackson's army was hardly disbanded before restless adventurers 
in New Orleans were planning an expedition against Mexico. 
Aurey's expedition to hold Galveston Bay had in it many who 
served under Jackson. General Humbert and Major Peire were 
among them, and they were quickly followed b^ the Lafittes, 
who had doffed the cloak of patriotism to assume again the more 
profitable garb of privateer. Edward Livingston himself remained 
in New Orleans lay adviser of the movement, even as he was 
formerly paid friend and mediator for the Baratarians. He 
and others kept Jackson informed of the movement and wished 
that the latter might lead it.' Jackson gave no open encourage- 
ment to it, neither did he try to suppress it; and the affair 
served to keep alive the popular feeling against Spain. 

Another incident, trivial in itself, further irritated the borderers 
and aroused the feelings of Jackson and his military subordi- 
nates. The Americans were building Fort Crawford on the 
Spanish frontier and were sending supplies to it by way of the 
Escambia, which empties into Pensacola Bay. The supplies 

'Niles, Xn., 211, S87, XIV., page i68, n. 
^Gaines to Jackson, November 31, 1S17, Jackson Mss. 

^Livingston to Jackson, November 7, 1816; Colonel Gibson to Jackson, January 19, 1817; Gaines to Jackson, 
February 14, 1817; Jackson Mss. 


were under the charge of Colonel Brearly. In anticipation of 
his arrival at Pensacola, Gaines sent a messenger thither to ask 
the Spanish governor to allow the boats to pass without hin- 
drance, giving the messenger a guard of seven soldiers for protec- 
tion against the Seminoles. At first the governor objected to 
the request because he could not allow goods to be imported 
free of duty. If the Americans wanted to buy provisions in 
Pensacola, he said, they might do so as freely as he could buy 
them in the United States, and if they desired they might refer 
the case to the governor-general in Havana. The messenger 
remained in the town, persisting in his demands, keeping his 
guard posted — a source of irritation — and awaiting the arrival 
of Brearly. After much delay and the renewal of the demands 
by Brearly when he had arrived, the Spaniard relented on the 
ground that the provisions were needed for the sake of humanity. 
This happened in April and May, 181 7. Twice later he made 
the same concfession under the same pretext; and finally in 
April, 1818, he refused to pass other supplies unless a Spanish 
merchant were made agent to forward them, pajdng the regular 
duties.' In this position the governor was within his rights, 
since the Escambia was not by treaty or accepted international 
law open to American navigation. But his denial of the priv- 
ilege was taken as a wrong by Gaines, who wrote to the governor 
a letter, May 12, 181 7, which for raw and undignified manner 
ought to make any courteous American blush to this day.' 

Meanwhile President Monroe was negotiating for the purchase 
of Florida. In some doubt of his final success he was pleased 
to have Jackson in a position to seize that province, if it should 
be necessary. In fact, the President, feeling that war was 
imminent, was making preparations for such an event. June 
2, 181 7, he wrote that England was preparing to help Spain 

'Gaines to Jackson, April i and May 8, 1817; Governor Jose Mascot to Gaines, April n, ai, i8iy ; Governor 
Jose Mascot to Jackson, April 15, 1818; Jackson Mss. 
*Jackson Mss. 


subdue her revolting colonies in return for commercial priv- 
ileges in South America.' 

Nothing could please Jackson better then the prospect of get- 
ting his hands again on the rich prize, which he joyfully held for 
a brief moment m 1814. Between him and the President there 
was complete understanding. Referring to the invasion of 
1814, Monroe wrote: "It is true I was not very severe on you 
for giving the blow, nor ought I to have been for a thousand 
considerations, which I need not mention.'" There could not 
be much real anger beneath the ofl&cial frowns of such a superior. 

The first step into Florida came in connection with the Amelia 
Island incident. This place, on the Atlantic coast just south 
of the American line, was seized in 1817, by McGregor, an Irish 
adventurer who had been concerned before that in a filibustering 
expedition against Mexico. It became the resort of smugglers 
and a scene of discord, which was as intolerable to Spain as to 
the United States. Early in November Gaines was directed to 
occupy it till further orders. The adventurers made no resist- 
ance and time was granted them to withdraw. 

When Gaines was sent to Amelia Island hostihties with the 
Seminoles were already begim. Fowltown, a particularly 
independent Indian town, lay on the American side of the new 
Une. Its chief gave prompt notice to the commandant of Fort 
Scott that the land taken by the Americans was his and that 
he should resist all attempts to deprive him of it. Gaines 
waited not a moment to conciliate him; he treated the defiance 
as a declaration of war and ordered Major Twiggs with 250 
men to seize the defiant chief. Twiggs reached the place on 
November 21st, was fired on by the savages, returned their 
fire, and drove them into the forest, with four warriors slain 
and many more wounded. Gaines reported this action to his 

'Jackson Mss. 

*Monroe to Jackson, July 3, 1816, Jackson Mss. 


superiors and awaited instructions to carry the struggle against 
all the hostile Indians.' The operations against McGregor 
called him away from these scenes, which promised such active 
campaigning. The secretary of war — it was now Calhoun — 
did in fact on December i8th, and again on December 26th, 
order him to attack the Seminoles, through East Florida if it 
seemed advisable, pursuing them into Florida if necessary,' 
but when these instructions reached him the conduct of the 
principal attack was entrusted to other hands. 

December 26th, the day he ordered Gaines for the second 
time to advance, Calhoun also ordered Jackson to Fort Scott 
to assume the chief direction of the war. He was authorized 
to concentrate at that point aU the troops in his department, 
including 1,000 Georgia miUtia recently called into service, 
and to call out other militia if needed.' The order found him 
at the "Hermitage" alive to the situation. He believed the 
time was come to seize Florida, and January 6, 1818, before 
he left Nashville, he suggested as much to Monroe in the fol- 
lowing letter: 

Sir: A few days since I received a letter from the Secretary 
of War, of the 17th ult., with enclosures. Your order of the 
19th ult. through him to Brevet Major-General Gaines to enter 
the territory of Spain, and chastise the ruthless savages who 
have been depredating on the lives and property of our citizens, 
will meet not only the approbation of your country, but the 
approbation of Heaven. Will you, however, permit me to suggest 
the catastrophe that might arise by General Gaines's compli- 
ance with the last clause of your order? Suppose the case that 
the Indians are beaten: they take refuge either in Pensacola 
or St. Augustine, which open their gates to them; to profit by 
his victory, General Gaines pursues the fugitives, and has to 

'American State Papers, Military, I., s66. 

'Jackson Mss.; also American Stale Papers, Military, I., 689, where the date of the former letter is given 
December 16, 1817. 
'American State Papers, Military, I., 690. 


halt before the garrison until he can communicate with his 
government. In the mean time the militia grow restless, and 
he is left to defend himself by the regulars. The enemy ,_ with 
the aid of their Spanish friends and Woodbine's British partisans, 
or, if you please, with Aurey's force, attacks him. What may 
not be the result? Defeat and massacre. Permit me to re- 
mark that the arms of the United States must be carried to 
any point, within the hmits of East Florida, where an enemy is 
permitted and protected, or disgrace attends. 

The Executive Government have ordered, and, as I con- 
ceive, very properly, Amelia Island to be taken possession of. 
This order ought to be carried into execution at aU hazards, 
and simultaneously the whole of East Florida seized, and held 
as an indemnity for the outrages of Spain upon the property of 
our citizens. This done, it puts aU opposition down, secures 
our citizens a complete indemnity, and saves us from a war 
with Great Britain, or some of the continental powers combined 
with Spain. This can be done without impUcating the govern- 
ment. Let it be signified to me through any channel {say Mr. J . 
Rhea) that the possession of the Floridas would be desirable to the 
United States, and in sixty days it will be accomplished. 

The order being given for the possession of Amelia Island, 
it ought to be executed, or our enemies, internal and external, 
will use it to the disadvantage of the government. If our troops 
enter the territory of Spain in pursuit of our Indian enemy, all 
opposition that they meet with must be put down, or we will 
be involved in danger and disgrace.' 

This letter was sound in its military ideas and unsound in its 
notion of foreign policy. It was certain that the Indians, if 
attacked, would flee to Florida, and if pursued thither they 
would seek refuge in Spanish towns; so that if hands might 
not be laid violently on such place of refuge, it would be well to 
make no appeal to arms in the first instance. But the sug- 
gestion that Florida be held as indemnity was impracticable. 

Later, Jackson asserted that while on his way to Fort Scott, 

^Benton, Thirty Years^ VieWt I., 169. 


in February, 1818, he received from Rhea the expected assurance 
and that it was in consequence of that information that he 
carried his army boldly into Florida. He also asserts that he 
preserved Rhea's letter till the Seminole controversy of the suc- 
ceeding winter became warm and that he then, April 12, 1819, 
burned the letter at Rhea's request, who said that he urged 
it at Monroe's solicitation. He also said that he wrote 
a note to this effect on the margin of his letter-book the 
day the communication from Rhea was destroyed, and 
that his friend. Judge Overton, saw the letter while it was 

Monroe's story differs totally from Jackson's. He says 
that he was ill when the letter of January 6th was received, 
that he read only two lines of it and seeing that it pertained 
to the Seminole situation laid it aside for Calhoun, that 
when the secretary of war read it he returned it with 
the remark that it required the President's own perusal, 
that it was shown to Crawford, a Georgian and secretary 
of the treasury, and that he, Monroe, then laid it aside 
and did not read it until his attention was called to it by 
Calhoun after congress met in December, 1818, when he 
looked it up and saw for the first time the suggestion as to 
seizing Florida. 

The historian must choose between the statements of the 
two men. Both are persons of conceded honesty, and we cannot 
impugn the intentions of either. But Monroe, as an educated 
man and a trained oflScial, probably had a more reliable memory. 
Jackson's defense, which he prepared at the time but did not 
publish, shows that he was not judicially minded. There is 
more probability that his memory was poorer than Monroe's. 
Moreover, certain other facts weaken Jackson's story: (i) He 
gave only a most general account of the contents of the letter. 
Even if it were written we cannot be sure that his memory did 


not play a trick in regard to its meaning." (2) Although he says 
he made in the margin of his letter-book a note opposite the 
copy of the letter of January 6th, no letter-book for this date 
is found in the large collection of papers which he has left, 
and neither Benton, nor Parton, nor Kendall, nor any other 
of the earher historians who saw the collection in its undiminished 
state, except the unreliable Henry Lee, has mentioned it. It 
would seem that Jackson would have been careful to preserve 
this bit of corroborating evidence after the loss of its main piece, 
if he had it. (3) What real harm could Rhea's letter have done 
commensurate with the commotion caused by its assumed de- 
struction? It is said its publication would have made Spain 
unwiUing to sign the Florida cession treaty, but the treaty 
was signed at Washington seven weeks before the letter was 
said to have been destroyed. It was then expected that 
Spain would ratify at once; and as the letter was safe in Jackson's 
hand and only destroyed to prevent its coming, by his death 
or some accident, into the hands of persons who might not 
conceal it — a contingency which was not irmninent — its 
destruction could hardly have been necessary to make ratifica- 
tion sure. (4) When Rhea was called on later to corroborate 
Jackson he was so old that his faculties were weak. He wrote 
at least three letters to Jackson before he was able to recall 
all that Jackson desired and he did not succeed till he received 
some important promptings. In one letter, January 4, 1 831, he 

I observe by my papers that you was in Washington in 
January, 1819. As yet nothing more. At that time I was 
continually occupied with business before the conunittee of 
pensions and revolutionary claims, and therefore I desire to 

lA copy of Overton's statement is in the Jackson Mss. He says that in 1818, while preparing Jackson's 
defense in the Seminole Controversy, he saw Rhea's letter in the original, which "in substance conveyed 
the idea that he had conversed with the President, who showed him your confidential letter; that he approved 
of your suggestion, etc." Which suggestion? 


have something to bring the matter to my recollection. You 
did not write it to me but I see by the newspapers what is going 
on. I request you to send me to Blountsville a copy of the 
letter (in which you mention my name) to Mr. Monroe. I 
am desirous to have it and trust all will come to light. As 
you are on the defensive I will help you all I can, I desire 
nothing to be known of me in the business, until I speak out 
as fully myself as I can and therefore this letter so far confi- 
dential, confidential. 

Jackson complied with his friend's request, forwarded copies 
of his letters to Monroe and related the whole matter as he 
remembered it. March 30th, Rhea was stiU calling for infor- 
mation and saying, "You think you will have to come out — 
if so, be not in haste.'" 

December 18, 1818, Rhea seems to have known nothing of 
such a letter as Jackson later described. Writing to the latter 
he said: "I will, for one, support your conduct, beheving as 
far as I have read that you have acted for pubKc good. There 

iThe letters from Rhea to Jackson, January 4, March 30, April 2, 1831, are in Jackson Mss. I ven- 
ture a possible explanation of the discrepancy between the statements of Monroe and Jackson, mostly 
a conjecture for it cannot be proved. Early in 1817, Jackson learned that the acting secretary of war had 
withdrawn from his division Major Long, a subordinate, and assigned him to duty elsewhere without inform- 
ing the commanding general of the fact. He sent a vigorous remonstrance to President Monroe, and getting 
no reply within a reasonable time, published an order warning his officers to obey no instructions in the future 
which did not come through his hands. A dispute was thus brought to the public attention between Gen- 
eral Jackson and the acting secretary, which the pacific Monroe was not able to settle. But when Calhoun 
took the war office, December 10, 1817, he wrote a conciliatory letter to Jackson and restored his good temper. 
Late in November, while the affair was still unsettled, Rhea, who was a member of congress from Tennessee, 
had a conversation about it with Monroe, in which the latter said many complimentary things about Jackson. 
November 27th and again December 24th, Rhea wrote Jackson in regard to the matter, expressing the President's 
high regard for the general. All of this shows that Rhea considered himself a mediator between his two friends 
in this matter. Now the bearing of this situation on the letter of January 6th is this; It is possible that some 
approving expression of Monroe in a later conversation with Rhea was reported by the latter to Jackson in 
such a way that the general would take it for the hint to invade Florida. Neither Monroe nor Rhea, then 
knew about the suggestion of January 6th, and an approving expression of the former may have been innocently 
reported by the latter in such a way as to convey a world of meaning to the expectant Jackson. We can hardly 
doubt that Jackson burned, as he alleged, a letter from Rhea containing some statement, which he took for 
permission; the statement so interpreted must, therefore, have referred to something else. This explanation 
seems more probable, since neither Jackson nor Overton gives any definite notion of how the permission in the 
burned letter was worded. The alternative to this theory, so far as I can see, is to hold that either Jackson or 
Monroe made false assertions, with the probability in favor of Jackson's guilt. It is difficult to believe this 
of either man. (For the letters from Rhea to Jackson mentioned in this note see Jackson Mss; also see Mon- 
roe to Jackson, December 2, 1817* in the same collection.) — J. S. B. 


has been (as you no doubt will have observed, m the pubUc 
papers,) an attempt made to investigate, but failed — the 
resolution was postponed — indefinitely. I confess I had 
rather that everything that could have been alleged had come 
out, but it was otherwise ordered."' The tone of this letter 
and the lack of others from Rhea at this time seem to indicate 
that he knew Uttle about the beginning of the Seminole War. 

Senator Williams, of Tennessee, claimed that he suggested 
to Monroe to order that the Indians be followed into Florida, 
that he believed Jackson would seize the opportunity if war- 
ranted in doing so by his orders, and that when the controversy 
arose in 1819 he knew from Crawford, and said to many friends, 
that Calhoun in Monroe's Cabinet desired to reprimand Jackson. 
Williams added that Jackson was told this but was so infuriated 
against Crawford that he would not believe it.' 

Whatever the truth about the suggestion of January 6th, 
the secretary's orders of December 26th, to take command of 
the campaign put General Jackson into quick motion. It was 
January nth that the order reached the "Hermitage." It 
reminded the commander that there were 800 regulars and 
1,000 Georgia militia under arms in the southern division, and 
it authorized him to call on the governors of neighboring states 
for other troops if they were needed. Eighteen hundred men 
were enough to beat the Indians but they were not enough to 
seize and hold Florida, and it was the latter object that Jackson 
had in mind. One thousand mounted men from Tennessee 
and Kentucky were believed to be necessary for this movement; 
but they could not be called out at once by the governor, who 
was on a visit to the Cherokees. With characteristic initiative 
Jackson called together some of his old officers, authorized them 
to raise the required number of men on his own responsibility, 

■Jackson Mss. 

>John Williams to Van Buren, March, 32, 1831. Van Buren Mss. 


and join him at Fort Scott as soon as possible. He assumed 
rightly that the governor would later approve of the action. 
January 22nd, with 200 men from the vicinity of Nashville, 
he set out by the shortest roads for the scene of danger. At 
Hartford, in northern Georgia, he was joined by Gaines, who had 
hastened back from Amelia Island before he knew he was 
superseded in the campaign, and March 9th the commander 
reached Fort Scott.' 

In the meantime, the Indians were in much confusion. The 
best estimates make them not more than twelve hundred, 
although the warlike Gaines was disposed to have the mmiber 
twice as large. They had no concerted plans for resistance. 
All their hopes lay in aid from the British and even Gaines said 
that they would submit as soon as they realized that this hope 
was vain." Arbuthnot could give them no comfort and exerted 
himself to save his red friends from the ruin which threatened 
them. They were too much infuriated to submit to the Ameri- 
cans, but their resistance was never formidable, and it seems 
probable that they would have made peace after a few vigorous 
raids against their towns, if the Americans had not coveted 

The Indians took the attack on Fowltown, November 21st, 
as the begiiming of war. They remained armed in the vicinity 
and a few days later attacked a body of troops which were sent 
to reconnoitre. November 30th, they ambushed a boat in the 
Apalachicola and killed or captured all but six of its forty- 
seven occupants, including soldiers and seven women.' This 
could only provoke the utmost vengeance of the United States. 
The hostiles realized it and heard with awe that their punishment 
was committed to the terrible Jackson. They dared not with- 

'American Stale Papers, Military, I., 687, 690, 696, 6g8. 
'Ibid, 6gi, «8S. 
'Ibid. 686, 687. 


stand him and fled before his face into the bounds of the Spanish 

At Fort Scott, Jackson commanded less than 2,000 men, 
800 regulars, 900 Georgia nulitia and a small body of friendly 
Creeks. These were threatened with starvation and he marched 
immediately for the mouth of the river, where he knew ships with 
provisions from Mobile were detained by adverse winds. March 
1 6th he arrived at the site of the Negro Fort and began to repair 
it for a fortified base. At the same time he received ample 
provisions from the river. He was now fifteen miles from the 
gulf at the dividing Hne between East and West Florida, 200 
miles east of Pensacola and 250 from St. Augustine. The 
intervening country, with the exception of a few posts, was as 
virgin forest as in the days of De Soto. So far as Spanish 
resistance was concerned the whole province was at his mercy. 

He took little time to make up his mind what to do. Reports 
came that the hostile Indians were assembled at the post of 
St. Marks, seventy-five miles eastward on a small river and 
ten miles from the coast. He decided to take it, and writing 
to the secretary of war, March 25th,' justified himself as follows: 

The Governor of Pensacola informed Captain CaU, of the ist 
infantry, (now here,) that the Indians had demanded arms, am- 
munition, and provisions, or the possession of the garrison of 
St. Marks of the commandant, and that he presumed possession 
would be given from inability to defend it. The Spanish gov- 
ernment is bound by treaty' to keep her Indians at peace with 
us. They have acknowledged their incompetency to do this, 
and are consequently bound, by the law of nations, to yield 
us aU facilities to reduce them. Under this consideration, should 
I be able, I shall take possession of the garrison as a depot for 
my supplies, should it be found in the hands of the Spaniards, 

^American State Papers, Military, I., 698. 

'By the treaty of 1795, the Spaniards agreed to restrain the Indians within their borders from attaclLS on 
the United States. 


they having supplied the Indians; but if in the hands of the 
enemy I will possess it for the benefit of the United States, as 
a necessary position for me to hold, to give peace and security 
to the frontier, and put a final end to Indian warfare in the 

March 26th, he set out straight overland for the fort, sending 
to the same place a fleet of small gunboats which had joined 
him from Mobile and New Orleans with orders to scour the 
coast and intercept any fugitives, "white, red, or black," who 
sought to escape his vengeance. On the march he was joined 
by a body of friendly Indians under the chief Mcintosh and 
by a part of the delayed West Tennessee troops. The Indian 
towns which lay in his way fared badly. At one place the oc- 
cupants dared to oppose him, but a vigorous attack sent them 
hurrying to St. Marks, where many of their friends were already 
assembled. The victor paused long enough to burn the houses 
of the hostiles and seize their suppUes of cattle and provisions. 
Among the spoils were found more than fifty fresh scalps, some 
of which were recognized as those of the party recently slain 
on the Apalachicola. Following the fugitives rapidly the army 
came to St. Marks, which was not in Indian hands. The weak 
garrison could make no resistance, the place was handed over to 
the Americans, who gave receipts for the movable property 
and estabUshed their own garrison within it. 

Learning then that another body of hostiles were assembled 
at Bowlegs' town of Suwanee, Jackson marched on April 9th 
for that place, hoping to take it by surprise. On the sixteenth 
he came to the outskirts of the place but not until the inhabi- 
tants had information of his approach. His attempt to surround 
the warriors proved futile, and they succeeded, much to his 
disappointment, in escaping across the river with the loss of 
nine Negroes and two Indians killed and nine Indians and 
seven Negroes captured. At this time the whole power of re- 


sistance of the Seminoles was broken, and their villages were 
burned and provisions seized or destroyed with impunity. 
Results had shown that they were not prepared for war, however 
hostUe may have been their feelings. Before Jackson's force 
of nearly three thousand white troops and two thousand Indian 
allies their scattered towns made, and could make, the faintest 
opposition. As a military feat the war came to little. It does 
General Jackson credit only as showing his remarkable power 
of quick and unrelenting pursuit in the face of many difficulties 
from bad roads and scant supplies of provisions.' 

Reporting his movement Jackson said, while at St. Marks, 
"Foreign agents, who have long been practising their intrigues 
and viUanies in this coimtry, had free access to the fort." He 
referred chiefly to Woodbine, who was fortunate enough to 
escape before the arrival of Jackson, and Arbuthnot, who trusted 
unhappily to the sanctity of Spanish neutrality and was promptly 
made prisoner. At Suwanee was found an adventurer of kindred 
character, Robert C. Ambrister, an EngUsh officer who was 
certainly where he had no business to be. Both were held 
prisoners for trial by court-martial.' 

Two other captives were the Indian chiefs Francis and Hi- 
mollimico. Awaiting in despair the arrival of Jackson, they 
were cheered to learn that a boat was in the harbor flying the 
British flag. Francis was recently returned from England and 
believed it was help from that quarter, with arms and supplies. 
Taking his trusted assistant, HimoUimico, he rowed ten miles 
to the anchorage and went aboard in aU confidence. He was 
received with tokens of friendship and lajdng aside his arms 
went below to drink with the commander. At a signal he was 
seized and bound, and when he protested was informed that he 
was a prisoner on an American gunboat. It was, in fact, one 

^American SiaU Papers, Military, I., 6gg, 700. 
'American State Papers, Military, I., 700. 


of the fleet which Jackson despatched to the coast to intercept 
fugitives. The commander displayed the British flag to attract 
the flying Indians. The next day the two prisoners were sent 
to the fort where they were summarily hanged by the orders 
of the commanding general.' The manner of taking them, 
though no worse than the ruses ordinarily practised by the 
Indians, has usually shocked the Americans' sense of fair play. 
The relentlessness of the execution and the courageous bearing 
of Francis, who had the charm of manner of the best specimens 
of his race, have served to contrast the characters of the two 
warriors, American and Indian, without disadvantage to the 

The fate of the two white prisoners was equally severe, al- 
though pronounced with more formality. The court-martial 
before which they were sent was taken from a population ac- 
customed to hate Woodbine and who had till very recently 
believed that "Arbuthnot" was an alias for "Woodbine." 
The escape of this leader of Negro and Indian troops before 
the arrival of the army was a disappointment, and put them 
into a frame of mind to have a vicarious victim, and this 
boded Ul for the veritable Arbuthnot. He was charged with 
inciting the Indians to war against the United States, he being 
a citizen of Great Britain, and with acting as a spy for the 
Indians and furnishing them with arms and other assistance. A 
third charge alleged that he had incited the Indians to kill 
Hambly and Doyle, two American traders, but the court 
decided that it had no jurisdiction over that matter." 

In support of the first charge it was specified that Arbuthnot 
advised the Creek chief. Little Prince, not to execute the treaty 
of Fort Jackson and that the United States were infringing the 
treaty of Ghent: also, that he volunteered to transmit complaints 

^Tuton, Jackson 11,454, gives a spirited account of the execution of the two chiefs. See also statement of 
commanding officer, American Slate Papers, Uilitary, I., 763. 
The minutes of this court-martial are in American State Papers, Military, I., 721. 


to the British government to induce it to interfere to see that 
the Indians received their rights. The prosecution offered as 
witness the interpreter who translated the letter for the Little 
Prince, but the letter itself was not in evidence. Letters were 
also produced from Arbuthnot to the governor of the Bahamas 
and to the British minister in Washington, showing that 
the writer was accepted by the Indians and acted as an agent 
for them. Another piece of evidence was a power of attorney 
signed by twelve chiefs, three of whom were old red sticks, 
some of whom lived in Florida and some in the United States, 
giving him full authority to represent them in any business 
whatever and to write letters for them. 

The second charge, aiding the enemy, was supported by a 
letter from Arbuthnot at St. Marks, written four days before 
Jackson's arrival there, to his son at Suwanee warning him to 
convey the father's property to a place of safety and transmitting 
to Bowlegs the advice that it was useless to oppose the Ameri- 
cans. This information, it was believed, enabled the savages 
to escape to the forest and thus to disappoint Jackson's desire 
for vengeance. The prosecution showed also that the accused 
had ten kegs of powder for the Indians and Negroes. 

The prisoner introduced little evidence and spoke in his own 
defense, although he was offered counsel. He objected to the 
evidence of the interpreter, since by criminal procedure the 
contents of a letter might not be introduced by parol, if the 
letter itself was obtainable; the letter to his son was written 
merely to save his property and to warn the Indians to submit 
to the Americans; and finally, he said ten kegs of powder were 
no more than enough for hunting by the Indians and Negroes 
with whom he traded. It was not a strong defense considering 
the temper of his judges. The story of the interpreter has marks 
of genuineness and other documents supported the contention 
that the accused was intermeddMng with the interpretation of 


the treaty. The court also could see that, whatever the 'object 
of the writer the letter to his son enabled the foe to escape the 
conqueror: they knew, also, that ten kegs of powder sold at 
just this time to the enemy of the American arms would make 
a difference in the warlike attitude of that enemy. After secret 
deliberation the prisoner was found guilty on each charge by 
a two-thirds vote of the court. The verdict was in no sense 
Jackson's. The court was presided over by Gaines, then brevet 
major-general, as weU trained in military law as any officer 
in the army. Of the twelve other members six were of the regu- 
lar army and six of the militia, all but one of a higher rank than 
captain. It was a representative court-martial, and it sen- 
tenced the prisoner to death by hanging. 

Had the Seminoles been civilized Arbuthnot's intermeddling, 
would have been less objectionable; but his course when taken 
with savages could not fail to produce dissatisfaction and lead 
to border massacres and pillaging. He was too wise a man to 
fail to understand this. He imprudently placed himself in a 
position as dangerous to his person as profitable to his commerce. 
The fate which overtook him, though not deserved, would have 
been avoided by a man of ordinary prudence. 

The court-martial next took up the case of Ambristef. He 
was a British citizen, formerly a lieutenant of marines, nephew 
of the governor of New Providence, and now about to return to 
England where he expected to be married. But the love of ad- 
venture was so strong that he turned aside to become involved 
in the Indian troubles brewing in Florida, having in mind the 
achievement of Woodbine. To many he said that he came on 
the latter's business. He was charged with aiding the Indians 
and Negroes and inciting them to resistance, and with leading 
and commanding them in their war against the United States. 
Evidence shows that he bore himself arrogantly from the time 
of his arrival, seizing property for the use of himself and his 


rabble of Negro followers, giving out ammunition and paint 
to the Indians, and, when he knew of Jackson's approach, 
sending his followers to oppose him with arms. Several com- 
promising letters of the prisoner were introduced, and one of 
them contained these words: "There is now a very large body 
of Americans and Indians, who I expect will attack us every day, 
and God only knows how it will be decided; but I must only 
say this wOl be the last effort with us. There has been a body 
of Indians gone to meet them, and I have sent another party. 
I hope Your Excellency will be pleased to grant the favor they 

Ambrister's defense was weaker than Arbuthnot's. The 
letter just quoted showed that he both incited the Indians 
and led them. He pleaded not guilty of the former charge 
and guilty with justification of the latter; but at the last threw 
himself on the mercy of the court. The verdict was guilty and 
the sentence was death by shooting. After sentence was an- 
nounced a member of the court asked for a reconsideration, 
which was granted, and the sentence was changed to fifty lashes 
on the bare back and a year's imprisomnent at hard labor. 
This leniency seems to have been due to the fact that Ambrister 
had been led on solely by love of adventure: the court probably 
felt that Arbuthnot, who was an old man, acted from design 
and was more culpable. But Jackson had no leniency for 
either prisoner. He approved of the verdicts as orginally 
given, setting aside the second sentence of Ambrister on the 
ground that the court had no right to reconsider. His position 
has this in its favor, that if a court can revoke its sentences it 
assumes the pardoning power, which it was never meant to 
exercise. The court ended its labors on April 28th, during 
the night Jackson gave his approval to the verdict, and at 
daylight on the twenty-ninth he set out for Fort Gadsden. A 
few hours later Ambrister was shot and Arbuthnot hanged 


from the yard of his own vessel. The spectacle of their two 
British friends, whom they had thought all powerful, thus 
simamarily disposed of by the relentless Jackson produced a 
deep and lasting impression on the hostile Indians. 

In his order confirming sentence Jackson said: "It is an es- 
tablished principle of the laws of nations that any individual 
of a nation making war against the citizens of another nation, 
they being at peace, forfeits his allegiance, and becomes an 
outlaw and pirate." This doctrine has no basis in international 
law. Citizens of neutral nations may, and do, take part in 
the wars of belligerents without becoming outlaws; they be- 
come prisoners of war and if captured are dealt with by the rules 
of civilized warfare. But the case is usually regarded otherwise 
in savage warfare, which is considered a species of organized 
assassination. A man who assumes the responsibility of bringing 
on such a calamity is in a sense a party before the act to its hor- 
rors and is not dealt with in the same way as a soldier in recog- 
nized warfare.' This was the position of Adams, American sec- 
retary of state, when the matter was taken up by the British gov- 
ernment. He asserted that Arbuthnot with others was respon- 
sible for the war and that they deserved the punishment of death." 
The British government was thus given no opportunity to dispute 
Jackson's definition of neutral rights but had to decide whether 
or not they would ask retribution for the punishment given 
their citizens, if it seemed excessive. They held after discussion 
that the penalty was not too great, on the ground, as Rush, our 
minister to London, reported, that Arbuthnot and Ambrister 
"had identified themselves, in part at least, with the Indians, 
by going amongst them with other purposes than those of inno- 
cent trade, by sharing in their sympathies too actively when 
they were upon the eve of hostilities with the United States; 

'Wharton, Jnlermtional Law Digest, HI., 328, 348. 

•Adams to Erving, Minister to Spain, November 28, 1818 American Slate Papers, Foreign, IV, S39. 544. 


by feeding their complaints; by imparting to them counsel; 
by heightening their resentments, and thus at all events increas- 
ing the predisposition which they found existing to war, if they 
did not originally provoke it.'" The fate of the two men serves 
as a warning that irregular agents, whose interests or enthusiasm 
lead them into rash actions, may not with impunity imperil the 
peaceful relations of their respective nations by their imauthorized 

The incident made temporarily a powerful impression on both 
the American and British public. Jackson's compatriots ap- 
proved his course heartily. They believed he had done justice 
upon two bad characters, and they admired the boldness of 
a man who could break so successfully the red tape of the foreign 
oflSce. Englishmen were indignant that two of their fellow- 
citizens were so summarily killed by an angry frontier general. 
They demanded an explanation; but it is probable that there 
was some exaggeration in Castelreagh's subsequent remark 
to Rush that war might have then occurred "if the Ministry 
had but held up a finger.'" 

Having crushed and intimidated the Indians there was now 
no reason why Jackson should not retire to American territory 
if his sole object was to deal with the savages. He left St. 
Marks garrisoned by 200 American troops, saying they were 
necessary to keep the Indians quiet. But they were too few 
if there was a real danger from that source and too many if 
the savages were crushed, as he alleged. His true reason must 
have been, as he said in the secret letter of January 6th, to 
hold Florida as indemnity. This supposition finds confirmation 
in his further movement in Florida. West of the Apalachicola 

'Rush to Adams, January 25, l8ig, Mss. reports in state department. 

3The case is discussed in Moore, International Law Digest, VII., 207. See also British and Foreign State 
Papers, 1818-1819, page 326, where the correspondence between the two governments is given. 

■Rush, Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London, (Edition 1833) page 488. For Rush on tha 
negotiations see Ibid, 464, 473. 


was a broad territory, in which the Indians were not trouble- 
some, but which was significant because it contained the town 
of Pensacola, without which American control of Florida would 
be impossible. Into this region he penetrated, on May loth, 
with 1,200 men to scour the country, as he put it. He met 
no opposition from the Seminoles but on the twenty-third 
received from the governor of Pensacola a written protest against 
this -invasion of Spanish territory. Jackson was then within 
a day's march of the town and on the same day sent peremp- 
torily an announcement of his purpose to occupy the town 
and its defenses. He supported his position by recounting the 
violations of neutrality at St. Marks, which, if they justified 
interference at that place, had nothing to do with Pensacola. He 
also alleged that Indians received succor at the latter place. 
The affidavits by which he tried to support the second charge 
are extremely flimsy and hardly weaken the governor's straight- 
forward declaration that he helped only a small number of 
non-combatants and a party of eighty-seven men, women, and 
children who were collected and sent northward with the sanction 
of an American officer. 

When he left Fort Gadsden, Jackson was told that 500 warriors 
were assembling at Pensacola. He said he would occupy the 
place if the report were true. No kind of evidence which he 
has preserved shows that any Indians were now there, yet he 
proceeded to take the town and hold it subject to the orders 
of his government. His own reports and accompanying docu- 
ments make it probable that his real reason here, as at St. Marks, 
was the determination to hold West Florida, of which Pensacola 
was the controlling point.' His attitude is further shown by 
the fact that he ordered Gaines to seize St. Augustine. There 
was now no other reason for such an order than the purpose 

'For documents; resp«tlng the movement against Pensacola see American Stale Papers, Uililary, I., 


to hold Florida, and the department of war revoked the com- 

His plans were accomplished with his usual promptness. 
May 24th he entered Pensacola and sent the governor, who 
took refuge in the Barrancas, a formal justification of his conduct, 
announcing that he would "assume the government until the 
transaction can be amicably adjusted by the two governments." 
The Spaniard replied politely, defending his conduct, requiring 
the invaders to leave Spanish territory as soon as they obtained 
necessary supplies, and closing by sajdng: "If contrary to my 
hopes, Your Excellency should persist in your intention to occupy 
this fortress, which I am resolved to defend to the last extremity, 
I shall repel force by force; and he who resists aggression can 
never be considered an aggressor. God preserve Your Excellency 
many years." To this Jackson replied as follows: 

Sir: The accusations against you are founded on the most 
unquestionable evidence. I have the certificates of individuals 
who, on the 23rd inst., at or near the little bayou, counted 
seventeen Indians in company with several Spanish officers.' 
I have only to repeat that the Barrancas must be occupied by 
an American garrison, and again to tender you the terms offered, 
if amicably surrendered. Resistance would be a wanton sacri- 
fice of blood, for which you and your garrison would have to 
atone. You cannot expect to defend yourself successfully, 
and the first shot from your fort must draw upon you the ven- 
geance of an irritated soldiery. I am weU advised of your 

'Parton, Jackson, U., SSS. 

*Jackson seems to have referred to the following certificates: By Richard Brickham; "I certify that on 
the 23d of May, being in the bayou, which enters Pensacola Bay, one and a half miles from the town, I saw 
at the ferry, on the road to the Barrancas, a number of Indians, 1 think about seventeen, in company with 
four Spanish officers. The officers were carried over, and the boat returned to ferry over the Indians. I saw 
one boat -load landed on the side next the Barrancas. The Indians concealed themselves in the bushes on 
discovering us." 

By John Bonners:" I certify that I was in a boat with Brickham at'the place and time mentioned in the above 
certificate; that I saw several Indians in company with four Spanish officers. The officers were ferried over 
with one Indian. I did not see the Indians ferried over; they concealed themselves on discovering us." 

It is not alleged that these Indians were warriors, or even warlike; the number is not definite; and nothing 
in the statements contradicts the governor's admission that he aided peaceful Indians who lived around 
Pensacola in small numbers, as he had a nght to do. 


strength, and cannot but remark on the inconsistency of pre- 
suming yourself capable of resisting an army which has conquered 
the Indian tribes, too strong, agreeably to your own acknowl- 
edgement, to be controlled by you. If the force which you 
are now disposed wantonly to sacrifice had been wielded against 
the Seminoles, the American troops had never entered the 
Floridas. I applaud your feeling as a soldier in wishing to 
defend your post; but when resistance is ineffectual, and the 
opposing forces overwhelming, the sacrifice of a few brave men 
is an act of wantonness, for which the commanding officer 
must be accountable to his God. 

Approaching the Barrancas the Americans were received with 
a brisk fire, and prepared to carry the place by storm; but the 
besieged governor would not allow matters to go to that stage. 
Feeling that his resistance was enough to show his loyalty to 
duty, he surrendered the fortifications, marching out with 
the honors of war. Jackson agreed to transmit him, the soldiers, 
and the civil officials to Havana, to receipt for military and other 
public property, and to hold the town and province subject to 
the determination of the American and Spanish governments. 
"The terms," reported Jackson to his government, "are more 
favorable than a conquered enemy would have merited, but, 
under the peculiar circumstances of the case, my object obtained, 
there was no motive for wounding the feelings of those whose 
military pride or honor had prompted to the resistance made." 
To his friend Campbell he wrote more confidentially: "All 
that I regret is that I had not stormed the works, captured 
the governor, put him on trial for the murder of Stokes and his 
family and hung him for the deed." ' 

The Barrancas surrendered May 28th, and the next day its 
captor was on his way to Tennessee. He left the Spanish 
civil administration intact, except as to the customs. The 

■Cited by Paiton, Jackson, II., soo. Stokes was an American recently murdered in an Indian raid. 


United States revenue laws were ordered in force, a revenue col- 
lector with necessary subordinates was appointed to execute 
them, and a garrison gave the proper support. At a banquet 
in Nashville in honor of the returning hero one of the toasts was : 
"Pensacola — Spanish perfidy and Indian barbarity rendered 
its capture necessary. May our government never surrender 
it from the fear of war." This toast voiced the popular feeling 
that Florida must be retained. Many persons beUeved that 
it would never return to Spain, among them land speculators 
who bought extensively in real estate at Pensacola. One of 
them was the colonel commanding the garrison left there. Sub- 
sequent developments punctured the boom and the venturesome 
colonel confessed that he had "burnt his fingers.'" But before 
this episode was accomphshed the invasion of Florida was made 
to play a prominent part in the nation's diplomacy and politics. 

>Col. William King to Col. R. Butler, December g, i3i8, Jul^son Mss. 



Jackson's invasion of Florida produced important historical 
results in both diplomatic and political affairs. It thrust 
itself into the midst of a long and delicate negotiation for the 
purchase of Florida, threatening at the time to defeat it, and 
probably helping to bring it at last to a favorable conclusion 
by showing Spain how precarious was her hold on the province. 
It became a rallying point for antagonistic groups of politicians, 
placing Clay in life-long opposition to the Tennessee hero, whom 
it drew to the ranks of his opponents; and in this sense 
it may be regarded as the starting point of a thirty-years' con- 
flict between the two men. 

Our negotiations for Florida began as early as Jefferson's 
administration. They were complicated by many matters and 
made no progress for ten years; but in 1817, there was a change 
of ministry in Madrid which favored our hopes. George W. 
Erving, our minister at that court, was surprised to receive, 
on August 17th, from Pizarro, the Spanish minister, a proposi- 
tion to cede Florida in exchange for all of Louisiana west of the 
Mississippi, from its source to its mouth.' The offer, of course, 
w^as impossible; but President Monroe took it as sign of yielding, 
and redoubled his efforts. The negotiations were transferred 
to Washington and went forward under the immediate super- 
vision of Secretary Adams. In an interview on December 19th, 
Onis, the Spanish minister in Washington, began these fresh 

^American Stale Papers, Foreign, IV, 445- 



negotiations; the date was three days after Calhoun first gave 
Gaines permission to pursue the Indians into Florida but with 
orders not to attack a fortified post. 

For three months the discussion proceeded tediously but 
hopefully, much argument being held on the questions of boun- 
daries and claims. While the business was in this stage, Monroe 
asserted, in a message of March 25, 1818, that most of the hos- 
tile Seminoles lived in Florida; that Spain failed to restrain 
them from attacking the Americans, as by treaty she was bound 
to do; and that the United States would be justified in entering 
Florida to pxmish the savages, but without insult to the Spanish 
authorities there, withdrawing as soon as their object was ac- 
comphshed. Onis resented this criticism and protested to 
Adams with many arguments to show that Spain had kept 

Soon after this the newspapers began to speak of Jackson's 
expedition into Florida and to hint at further designs than 
punishing the Indians. Onis discounted such rumors and made 
no protest until at the middle of June he received official in- 
formation from the governor of West Florida. His indignation 
burst forth immediately and treaty negotiations were suspended. 
"How was it possible," he exclaimed, "to believe that at the 
very moment of a negotiation for settling and terminating 
amicably all the pending differences between the two nations, 
and while Spain was exhibiting the most generous proofs of 
a good understanding, and the most faithful observance of all 
the duties of good neighborhood, the troops of the United States 
should invade the Spanish provinces, insult the commanders 
and officers of their garrisons, and forcibly seize on the military 
posts and places in those provinces?" He closed a catalogue 
of wrongs by saying: "In fine, General Jackson has omitted 
nothing that characterizes a haughty conqueror but the cir- 

^Amtrican Slate Papers, Foreign, IV,, 486. 


cumstances of adding to these monstrous acts of hostility the 
contradictory expressions of peace and friendship with Spain."' 
The wrath of Onis was not greater than that of Pizarro. 
During the summer he conducted with Erving a most amiable 
negotiation, and several of the disputed points were already 
removed when news came in August of the course of Jackson 
in Florida. At first, he contented himself with a protest, as- 
suming, as it seems, that Jackson would be disavowed; but 
when Onis reported that no such action was taken in Washington 
the resentment of the minister burst forth. Renewing his 
protest he declared: 

In consideration of the nature of the said injuries and acts 
essentially hostile, the course of the pending negotiations be- 
tween the two governments shall be, and accordingly is, sus- 
pended and interrupted, until the Government of the United 
States shall mark the conduct of General Jackson in a manner 
correspondent with its good faith, which appears to be no other 
than by disapproving the aforementioned excesses, giving 
orders to reinstate everything as it was previous to the invasion, 
and inflicting a suitable punishment on the author of such 
flagrant disorders.' 

Monroe was, indeed, slow to act in the matter, for there 
were many difiiculties. He was anxious to complete the ne- 
gotiations for Florida, and individually he disapproved of its 
occupation, but Jackson's popularity was so great that the 
administration dared not comply with all of Pizarro's demands. 
The matter first came up in the cabinet on July 15, 1818, in 
reply to Onis's protest. Monroe and all his advisers but the 
secretary of state believed that Jackson had violated his instruc- 
tion. Calhoun was especially strong and gave the impression 
that he was touched in his pride because his orders were not 

'Ibid, 495- 
'Ibid, $». 


followed. Adams held that all Jackson did in Florida was de- 
fensive and incident to his main duty to crush the Seminoles, 
and he added that Pensacola ought to be held until Spain gave 
guarantee to restrain her Indians from attacks on the United 
States; but he changed the latter position when convinced by 
argument that territory cannot be acquired xmder the consti- 
tution without an act of congress. A long debate resulted in 
three documents : (i) A letter to Onis announcing that Pensacola 
and St. Marks would be given up; (2) a letter to Jackson calcu- 
lated to soften the blow and preserve his good-wUl by explaining 
the constitutional objections to the acquisition of Florida by 
invasion; (3) a letter by Wirt, attorney-general, for pubHcation 
in the National Intelligencer by which it was sought to secure 
popular support.' 

In these discussions Adams, whose diplomacy was apt to be 
aggressive, was disappointed because Monroe did not take a 
more positive position. But when, in November, despatches 
came from Erving, inclosing Pizarro's notes of the preceding 
summer, he welcomed the opportunity to go to the bottom of the 
matter. His reply was excellent.' It began with the assertion 
that Jackson occupied Florida not by orders, but as an incident 
"which occurred in the prosecution of the war against the In- 
dians"; and since Pizarro intimated that the situation might 
result in war, it would be well to review the Seminole troubles 
from their origin. They began with the arrival of NichoUs 
and Woodbine, who made Pensacola their base of operations, 
and, when driven out by Jackson, planted themselves on the 
Apalachicola to send forth the Indians and Negroes to distress 
the defenseless American settlers. But all this might be buried ' 
in obUvion with other transactions of war but for the conduct 

'Adams, Afcmoifj, IV., 107-120. For the documents see: i. American State Papers, Foreign, IV., 508; 
'I. Monroe, Writings, VI., 54; 3. National Intelligencer, July 27, 1818. 

^American State Papers, Foreign, IV., 539. With Adams's despatch are published many documents on the 
invasion of Florida, Ibid, 545-612. 


of Nicholls and Woodbine after the return of peace. They 
fired the resentment of the Creeks by the assurance that the 
treaty of Ghent protected them, by holding out the hope of aid 
from Britain, by making a pretended treaty with them, by 
sending threatening letters to the American ofi&cials, by con- 
structing the fort on the Apalachicola, by furnishing arms and 
ammunition, and by many other actions which tended to incite 
them to war on the United States, until at last the maddened 
savages sallied across the frontier and killed American citizens. 
All this was done in plain view of the Spanish ofl&cials who did 
not try to check it. Nor did it cease with the departure of 
Nicholls. Arbuthnot and Ambrister took up his work fanning 
the flame of discontentment, the Indian outrages continued 
and became more severe, until at last it was necessary for the 
United States to begin war. But how should the enemy be 
humbled without crossing the Spanish line, since they made it 
a safe refuge between their raids? General Jackson believed 
it was necessary to foUow the foe into Florida, not as an enemy 
of Spain, but solely to reach an insolent foe. As he approached 
St. Marks he learned that it was likely to faU into the hands of 
the Indians, who were collected there in large numbers — and 
the information was from the governor of Pensacola himself. 
For this reason he occupied the fort, as he announced, tiU Spain 
was able to garrison it strongly enough to hold it against the 
Indians. Also, he learned that the governor of Pensacola, 
ruling over West Florida, had given various acts of assistance 
to the enemy, and he marched into that province. When he 
received from the governor a warning that he would be expelled 
by force if he did not leave at once, he took it as a challenge 
and to prevent his own ejectment seized the town of Pensacola 
and its defenses. He contmued to hold the two places because 
he believed they would be used to protect the Indians if he left 
them in the hands of Spain. Regardless of this very justifiable 


precaution the United States had shown its good intentions by 
ordering the posts to be given up unconditionally; "but the 
President," continued the secretary, "will neither inflict punish- 
ment, nor pass a censure upon General Jackson, for that conduct, 
the motives of which were founded in the purest patriotism; 
of the necessity for which he had the most immediate and 
effectual means of forming a judgment; and the vindication 
of which is written in every page of the law of nations, as well 
as in the first law of nature — self-defense." On the contrary, 
the President thought that Spain ought to order an inquiry 
of the conduct of the governors of Pensacola and St. Marks. 
Adams came more closely to the point in the following candid 
and strong statement; 

If, as the commanders both at Pensacola and St. Marks 
have alleged, this has been the result of their weakness rather 
than of their will; if they have assisted the Indians against 
the United States to avert their hostilities from the province 
which they had not sufficient force to defend against them, it 
may serve in some measure to exculpate, individually, those 
officers; but it must carry demonstration irresistible to the 
Spanish Government, that the right of the United States can 
as little compound with impotence as with perfidy, and that 
Spain must immediately make her election, either to place a 
force in Florida adequate at once to the protection of her terri- 
tory, and to the fulfilment of her engagements, or cede to the 
United States a province, of which she retains nothing but the 
nominal possession, but which is, in fact, a derelict, open to the 
occupancy of every enemy, civilized or savage, of the United 
States, and serving no other earthly purpose than as a post of 
annoyance to them. 

The force of this argimient was not lost on Pizarro. Nothing 
further appears in regard to the demand that Jackson be punished, 
and the Florida negotiations, which were already resumed, 
proceeded so fast that on February 22, 18 19, Monroe was able 


to send to the senate a treaty which gave us the long-sought 

Adams's defense of Jackson was the strongest that could be 
made, but it smacked of the advocate and it had certain weak 
points. Spain's responsibiUty for NichoUs, Arbuthnot, Am- 
brister, and Woodbine, her complicity with England, who was 
allowed to use Pensacola as a base in the war of 181 2, her har- 
boring fugitive Creeks, who sallied forth to attack the Ameri- 
can frontier during that war, and, later, her failure even to try 
to restrain her own savages from similar attacks, and her weak- 
ness in guarding her territory are all points well taken; but 
they lose some of their force because American territory was 
for a long time safe refuge for filibusters against Spain. Weaker 
stiU is Adams's contention that it was necessary to take St. 
Marks to keep it from falling into Indian hands, since such a 
catastrophe was in nowise imminent; nor can one pay considera- 
ble attention to Jackson's reason for seizing Pensacola. Weakest 
of aU was the defense of Jackson's holding West Florida and the 
district adjoining the Apalachicola on the east under the pre- 
text that such a course was necessary to keep down an enemy 
who, according to Jackson's own statement, was utterly crushed. 
The American government recognized this, and announced at 
once that it would restore the province to its rightful owners, 
not, as Adams blandly said, as an act of grace, but because it 
had no justifiable ground for doing otherwise. Adams's 
pugnacious argtunents were useful to make Spain reahze her 
insecure hold on Florida. With Central and South America 
gone from her grasp, Jackson's easy conquest warned her that 
it was good policy to sell for cash what otherwise she would 
eventually lose at the expense of war and national disgrace. 

The acquisition of Florida involved the sacrifice of Texas; 
for Spain secured by the treaty the recognition of the Sabine 
as the Louisiana boundary on the southwest. Several things 


combined to induce Monroe to make this concession. One 
was the infliience of Crawford, who sought to give safety to 
the borders of Georgia, his own state; another was the desire 
to avoid aggravating the slavery controversy, then already suf- 
ficiently annoying in the Missouri question; and stUl another was 
the conviction that Florida at that time was worth more to the 
nation than Texas. Secretary Adams resisted the abandonment 
of our claim to the Southwest, but his opposition was not public. 
Clay, on the other hand, denounced the proceedings in congress. 
Although not openly concerned in the discussion, Jackson 
agreed with Monroe, partly through his general support of the 
administration, partly because he disliked Clay, and partly 
from his long-cherished desire to acquire Florida. Monroe, 
who at this time had a nervous respect for his opinion, wrote 
him his reasons for approving the Florida treaty. Jackson's 
reply contained the following expression: 

I am clearly of your opinion that, for the present, we ought 
to be content with the Floridas — fortify them, concentrate 
our population, confine our frontier to proper limits, until our 
country, to those limits, is filled with a dense population. It 
is the denseness of our population that gives strength and se- 
curity to our frontier. With the Floridas in our possession, 
our fortifications completed, Orleans, the great emporium of 
the West, is secure. The Floridas in the possession of a foreign 
power, you can be invaded, your fortifications turned, the 
Mississippi reached and the lower country reduced. From 
Texas an invading enemy will never attempt such an enterprise; 
if he does, notwithstanding all that has been said and asserted 
on the floor of Congress on this subject, I wiU vouch that the 
invader wiU pay for his temerity.'" 

In 1836 the advocates of Texan annexation were denouncing 
the treaty of 1819. Their opponents replied that Jackson 

Jackson to Monroe, June zo, 1820, Parton, Jackson II., 584; Monroe to Jackson, May 33, X830, WritingSt 
VI., 136, Niles, Register, LXII., 138; Adams, Memoirs, IV., 275. 


supported that treaty, and John Quincy Adams in the house 
described an interview in which General Jackson, in 1819, 
freely expressed himself to that effect for the benefit of President 
Monroe. Jackson pointedly denied the interview. Adams 
supported himself from his diary, and the two men were left 
before the public with an unsettled point of veracity between 
them. Each was doubtless honest, but in view of the evidence 
of Adams's diary we are led to suppose that the irritable and 
convinced mind of Jackson had played him a trick." 

When the cabinet adopted its Florida poUcy, it left to Monroe 
the task of pacifying Jackson, whose strong temper was well 
known. Calhoun might have had the duty, but it was wiser 
to leave it to the President, who was an old friend and whose 
disposition was smooth and pliant. His letter of July 19, 1818, 
met all expectations. With the greatest show of candor he 
promised in the outset to conceal nothing that his correspondent 
ought to know and proceeded as follows: 

In caUing you into active service against the Seminoles, 
and communicating to you the orders which had been given 
just before to General Gaines, the views and intentions of the 
Government were fuUy disclosed in respect to the operations 
in Florida. In transcending the limits prescribed by those 
orders you acted on your own responsibility, on facts and cir- 
cumstances which were unknown to the Government when 
the orders were given, many of which, indeed, occurred after- 
wards, and which you thought imposed on you the measure, as 
an act of patriotism, essential to the honor and interests of 
your coimtry. 

It was proper to follow the Indians into Florida, but an 
order by the Government to attack a Spanish post would 
assume another character. It would authorize war, to 
which, by the principles of our Constitution, the Executive 
is incompetent. Congress alone possesses the power. I am 

'Seward, Adams, 377. 


aware that cases may occur where the commanding general, 
acting on his own responsibility, may with safety pass the 
limit, and with essential advantage to his country. The ofl&cers 
and troops of the neutral power forget the obligations incident 
to their neutral character; they stimulate the enemy to make 
war; they furnish them with arms and munitions of war to 
carry it on; they take an active part in their favor; they afford 
them an asylum in their retreat. The general obtaining victory 
pursues them to their post, the gates of which are shut against 
him; he attacks and carries it, and rests on those acts for his 

Was evidence ever more ingeniously distorted in the mouth 
of a special pleader? It was not charged that Spanish officers 
stimulated the Seminoles to war, or that they furnished arms, 
or took part in the struggle; nor is it quite true that Jackson 
pursued his enemy to St. Marks and Pensacola. But this 
clever array of assumptions was calculated to please Jackson, and 
it was made to introduce a still more subtle appeal to his vanity. 

The affair is then brought before his government by the 
power whose post has thus been attacked and carried. If the 
government whose officer made the attack had given an order 
for it, the officer would have no merit in it. He exercised no dis- 
cretion, nor did he act on his own responsibility. The merit 
of the service, if there be any in it, would not be his. This is 
the ground on which the occurrence rests as to his part. 

But as to the government: it was now face to face with the 
question of war. 

If the Executive refused to evacuate the posts, especially 
Pensacola, it would amount to a declaration of war, to which 
it is incompetent. It would be accused of usurping the authority 
of Congress, and giving a deep and fatal wound to the Consti- 
tution. By charging the offense on the officers of Spain, we take 
the ground which you have presented, and we look to you to 


support it. You must aid in procuring the documents necessary 
for this purpose. Those you sent by Mr. Hamby were prepared 
in too much haste, and do not, I am satisfied, do justice to the 
cause. This must be attended to without delay. ■" Should we 
hold the posts, it is impossible to calculate all the consequences 
likely to result from it. It is not improbable that war would 
immediately follow. Spain would be stimulated to declare 
it; and once declared, the adventurers of Britain and other 
countries, would under the Spanish flag, privateer on our com- 
merce. The immense revenue which we now receive would 
be much diminished, as would be the profits of our valuable 
productions. The war would doubtless soon become general: 
and we do not foresee that we should have a single power in 
Europe on our side. Why risk these consequences? The 
events which have occurred in both the Floridas show the in- 
competency of Spain to maintain her authority; and the prog- 
ress of the revolutions in South America will require all her 
forces there. There is much reason to presmne that this act 
will furnish a strong inducement to Spain to cede the territory, 
provided we do not too deeply woimd her pride by holding it. 
If we hold the posts, her government cannot treat with honor, 
which, by withdrawing the troops, we afford her an opportunity 
to do. The manner in which we propose to act will exculpate 
you from censure, and promises to obtain all the advantages 
which you contemplated from the measure, and possibly very 
soon. From a different course no advantage would be likely 
to result, and there would be great danger of extensive and 
serious injuries. 

These were excellent arguments and were calculated to im- 
press Jackson, after he was properly prepared for them by the 
preceding deft phrases of flattery. They were followed by as 
barefaced a connivance at trickery as a President of the United 
States could well commit. Said Monroe: 

Your letters to the Department were written in haste, under 
the pressure of fatigue and infirmity, in a spirit of conscious 
rectitude, and, in consequence, with less attention to some 


parts of their contents than would otherwise have been bestowed 
on them. The passage to which I particularly allude, from 
memory, for I have not the letter before me, is that in which you 
speak of the incompetency of an imaginary boundary to protect 
us against the enemy — the ground on which you bottom aU 
your measures. This is liable to the imputation that you took 
the Spanish posts for that reason, as a measure of expediency, 
and not on account of the misconduct of the Spanish officers. 
The efEect of this and such passages, besides other objections 
to them, would be to invalidate the ground on which you stand 
and furnish weapons to adversaries who would be glad to seize 
them. If you think proper to authorize the secretary or myself 
to correct those passages, it will be done with care, though, 
should you have copies, as I presume you have, you had better 
do it yourself. 

Jackson was little impressed by Monroe's subtleties. Brush- 
ing aside all suggestions of Spanish responsibihty, danger of 
war, and amendment of despatches, he confined his reply to 
Monroe's two assertions, "That I transcended the Umits of my 
orders and that I acted on my own responsibility." In the 
first place, he desired to say that he did not shirk responsibility: 
"I have passed through difficulties and exposures for the honor 
and benefit of my country ; and whenever stiU, for this purpose, 
it shall become necessary to assume a further hability, no scruple 
win be urged or felt." In spite of a suggestion of brag this 
statement was absolutely true. With no allusion to a Rhea 
letter he justified himself by the order of December 26, 1817, 
which authorized him to "adopt the necessary measures to 
terminate a conflict which it has ever been the desire of the 
President, from motives of humanity, to avoid." This order 
was sweeping, and he considered it broad enough to allow him 
to do what he thought fit in the emergency. "The fullest 
discretion," he said, "was left with me in the selection and 
appUcation of means to effect the specifical legitimate objects 


of the campaign; and for the exercise of a sound discretion on 
principles of policy am I alone responsible." 

October 20th, Monroe repUed more complaisantly than ever. 

Finding that you had a different view of your power, it 
remains only to do justice to you on that ground. Nothing 
can be further from my intention than to expose you to a re- 
sponsibiUty, in any sense, which you did not contemplate. The 
best course to be pursued seems to me to be for you to write 
a letter to the Department, in which you will state that, having 
reason to think that a difference of opinion existed between you 
and the Executive, relative to the extent of your powers, you 
thought it due to yourself to state your view of them, and on 
which you acted. This will be answered, so as to explain ours, 
in a friendly manner by Mr. Calhoun, who has very just and 
Uberal sentiments on the subject. 

It was not candid in Monroe to allow Jackson to believe that 
Calhoun was his friend in the Seminole matter. It created a 
false opinion in the mind of the general which the secretary was 
weak enough to approve by his sUence, and that made greater 
the explosion when the truth at last came out. Throughout 
their dealing with the incident the President and most of the 
cabinet showed that they were afraid of their subordinate whom 
the people considered a hero. But Monroe's doubtful sugges- 
tions were met with Jackson's accustomed directness. He 
repeated the assertion that he had not transcended instructions 
and refused to be put in a position to open a discussion, but 
he would not avoid one if it was forced upon him, and he 
said in dismissing the affair: 

There are no data at present upon which such a letter as 
you wish written to the Secretary of War can be bottomed. I 
have no ground that a difference of opinion exists between the 
government and myself, relative to the powers given me in my 


orders, unless I advert either to your private and confidential 
letters or the pubUc prints, neither of which can be made the 
basis of an ofi&cial communication to the Secretary of War. 
Had I ever, or were I now to receive an official letter from the 
Secretary of War, explanatory of the hght in which it was in- 
tended by the government that my orders should be viewed, 
I would with pleasure give my understanding of them.' 

Calhoun did not send the requested letter and this phase 
of the Seminole affair closed. Already another phase was 
opening, a pohtical investigation supported primarily by those 
who wished to discredit the administration and connived at 
by some others who feared Jackson as a political factor. Now, 
as at other times, it proved that his opponents underestimated 
his power with the people. Their fuhninations returned to 
their own heads, the administration was not injiured, and 
Jackson's position as a party man became stronger and more 

When Jackson, the military hero, appeared on the stage of 
national poUtics he was not an inexperienced politician. For 
many years he was an eminent character in Tennessee. He 
belonged to the faction in which acted James Robertson and the 
Donelsons, in the West, and the Blounts, in the East, all promi- 
nent socially as well as politically. Probably this faction was a 
little more aristocratic than that led by Sevier, the people's 
hero. Strength of will, self-assertion, physical and intellectual 
boldness, abiUty to make himself obeyed and feared, were aU 
qualities of success in Tennessee. Although his quarrels 
weakened his leadership for a time, he had many friends who 
wanted to bring him back into office. The opposition to him 

'For Monroe's part of the correspondence see Monroe, Writings, VI, 54, 74, 85: for Jackson's part see 
Virtoa, Jackson H., 518-528, where Monroe's part is also given. Jackson's letters in this affair show traces 
of another mind than his. The assistant was probably Overton, who was at this time engaged in preparing 
the general's defense in the Seminole affair (Jackson to Eaton, November rg, iSiq, Jackson Mss.) Eaton 
and Butler were in Washington and could not have helped in the writing, and it could not have been by Lewis, 


was chiefly personal, and yielded quickly before the successes 
in the Creek country and at New Orleans. The year 18 15 
was not gone before shrewd men in the West began to say that 
with proper management he could be made President.' There 
were many suggestions to this effect at this time, all with ref- 
erence to the election of 1816.' But it soon became evident 
that the prize was now Monroe's. Jackson acquiesced wilhngly 
both because he disUked Crawford, Monroe's chief competitor, 
and because of his long friendship for the Virginian. It was, 
in fact, in association with the Macon-Randolph-Monroe group 
of repubUcans that he began to take interest in national politics. 
Like the others of the group he disliked Jefferson and opposed 
the election of Madison in 1808.' In 1815, he was in a position 
to have influence with the coming administration and the long 
future seemed hopeful. After a trip to Washington in the au- 
tumn he gave himself up for several years to the duties of his 
department, receiving reports, making infrequent trips of 
inspection as far south as New Orleans, and visiting the Indians 
to make treaties or establish more friendly relations. He was 
often in communication with Teimessee leaders: Eaton, who 
was then completing the biography which the death of Reid 
early in 1816 left incomplete; White, Overton, Felix Grundy, and 
Major W. B. Lewis. It was a busy group of friends, bent on 
his elevation in due time. The first-and second were United 
States senators, the third was a state judge of character and 
ability, a loyal adviser through many years, the fourth was a 
rising young politician of great shrewdness, and the last an 
industrious lieutenant who, although of ordinary mind, had 
much influence with the chief and was destined to render various 
important services in the years to come. They all had their 

'Andrew Hynes to Jackson, October 24, 1815; Anthony Butler to Jackson, November 7,'i8is, Jackson Mss. 
■One came from Aaron Burr, but it seems to have had no influence on later events. Burr to Alston, 
November ao, j8is; Parton, Jackson, II., air- 
's. Williams to Jackson, April 25, 180S, Jackson Mss. 


eyes on the election of 1824, when Monroe should have had his 
full allotment of service and honor. 

In the meantime, four other men hoped for the succession. 
Crawford, of Georgia, excellent politician and administrator, 
was Monroe's chief republican contestant in 18 16 and withdrew 
from the canvass before the election because, as it is assumed, 
he was promised the Virginia support in 1824. He became 
secretary of the treasury under the new President, and through- 
out the eight years of his inctmabency had the support of the 
New York- Virginia alliance, then very powerful in the election 
of Presidents. Another candidate was Adams, secretary of 
state from 1817 until 1825, selected because of his abiUty and 
because it was believed wise to have a New Englander in the 
cabinet. Still another was Calhoun, whom Monroe made sec- 
retary of war with some hesitation, and after the place was 
declined by Jackson. He was young, ambitious, and a defender 
of national interests, and not yet enslaved by the states' rights 
ideas of South CaroUna. These three, being in the cabinet, 
gave support to the administration, although Crawford pro- 
ceeded with a certain air of independence, as became a man 
-whose ambitions were countenanced by the old regime. 

The fourth candidate was Clay. He had wished to be Mon- 
roe's secretary of state, because the office was supposed to 
carry the succession; but when it went to Adams he refused 
to be consoled with the war office, which he might have had, 
and in the house of representatives he became the leader of 
those who could be brought to oppose the administration, 
seizing eagerly on everything which could serve his purpose 
and fighting so hotly that some of his opponents thought him 
more selfish than patriotic. In the spring of 1818, Monroe 
asked congress to pay the expenses of a cormnission to report 
on the condition of affairs in the new South American republics. 
Clay opposed it and moved that a minister be sent to the "United 


Provinces of Rio de la Plata." He supported his motion in 
his loftiest style, but it was lost by a vote of 115 to 45. Stung 
by his defeat, he was in a mood to undertake much to retrieve 
his position when news of the invasion of Florida came north- 
ward. Monroe's second message, November 16, 1818, gave 
him the opportunity to take up the matter. It approved of 
Jackson's action in Florida on the grounds of necessity, throwing 
the responsibiUty upon the Spanish officials in the province. 
The message was referred to the house committee on miUtary 
affairs. As early as this Jackson's friends in Washington re- 
ported that some "back stairs influence" was being exerted to 
secure a report unfavorable to him. Georgia's representatives 
were hostile and New York's were supposed to be wiUing to 
support them. The former were probably under the influence 
of Crawford, between whom and Jackson unfriendly relations 
had sprung up in a manner much like the origin of most of 
Jackson's quarrels. It was as follows : 

By the treaty of Fort Jackson, 1814, the Creeks ceded a wide 
strip of land from the Tennessee to the old West Florida 
boundary, giving a broad, open path to Mobile. Early in 1816, 
a Cherokee delegation appeared in Washington with a claim to 
that part of this strip which extended south of the Tennessee 
River for nearly one hundred miles, and Crawford, then secretary 
of war, allowed the claim under a construction of an old treaty. 
Jackson heard of the impending negotiations and wrote a protest 
which arrived too late to prevent the convention with the Chero- 
kees. When he learned that all his plans for an open path 
southward were thus blocked, he sent a vigorous objection to 
the secretary, his superior. It is the only paper in cormection 
with the Cherokee treaty of this year which seems to have 
been written by himself. Full of his characteristic logic and 
bluster, it concludes by saying: "I have now done: political 
discussion is not the province of a military ofl&cer. As a man 


I am entitled to my opinion and have given it freely.'" In 
the following September he met the Cherokees for a treaty 
and was forced to buy back the land which the recent convention 
confirmed to them. He reheved his feelings in a private letter 
in which he said: "My whole time and thoughts are occupied 
in finding out the wUds of the deceitful, and to obtain if possible 
the object in view, and finally disappoint the would-be 
President.'" Crawford's letters to Jackson were direct and 
without that tone of timorous compliment which even his 
superiors were accustomed to use toward him.' Neither man 
was likely to yield to the other, the quarrel became bitter, 
and for more than eight years, Jackson lost no opportunity 
to defeat the plans of "the would-be President." Crawford, 
less passionate and outspoken, was willing in 1818 to use any 
proper political opportunity to discredit his enemy, who was 
Ukely to be a rival, and the Seminole matter seemed to afford 
just such an occasion. Thus Clay openly and Crawford secretly 
were prepared, for political reasons, to inquire into Jackson's 
invasion of Florida. 

Jackson in NashviUe knew well that trouble was brewing 
in Washington and through his friends kept informed of the 
situation. Eaton, fearing that the general's temper would not 
be controlled, urged him not to come to the capital. But 
Robert Butler, an old companion in arms and a faithful de- 
fender, thought differently, writing on December isth, that 
his chief's presence was needed, and the master of the "Her- 
mitage" hesitated no longer.' After a hard trip over wretched 
roads, he arrived in the city on January 27, 1819. 

^American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II., no. Parton says that Jackson made his protest to Crawford 
while in Washington in the winter of 1815-1816, but the correspondence indicates that his protest from New 
Orleans on A^ril 11 was his first interference in the matter. Cf. Parton, Jackson, II., 355. 

'Jackson to R. Butler, September s, 1816, Jackson Mss. 

'See American Stage Papers, Indian Affairs, II., 88-91, 100-113. 

•Eaton to Jackson, December 14, 1818; Poiudexter to Jackson, December 12, 1818; Butler to Jackson, Dec- 
ember 15, 1818, Jackson Mss. 


The situation was already acute. A fortnight earher the 
house military committee reported against the execution of 
Ambrister and Arbuthnot. The report went to the committee of 
the whole, where Cobb, of Georgia, Crawford's leading supporter 
in the house, moved to amend by declaring (i) that a bill be 
introduced to forbid the execution, without the approval of 
the President, of any captive taken in time of peace or in an 
Indian war; (2) a disapproval of the seizure of St. Marks and 
Pensacola, "contrary to orders, and in violation of the constitu- 
tion"; (3) that a bill ought to pass to prohibit the invasion of 
foreign territory without authority of congress, except in fresh 
pursuit of a defeated enemy. Cobb's speech introduced a three- 
weeks' debate, called forth some able speeches in the house, 
and produced a deep impression on the pubUc. At the end 
the report of the mihtary committee was lost by a vote of 63 to 
107 and Cobb's amendments by 70 to ioo.| 

The most notable speech for the minority was from Clay, 
who now first appeared in open opposition to Jackson. Dis- 
claiming personal animosity either to him or to the administra- 
tion, he asserted that important principles were involved and 
that he should examine them candidly. First of all, he attacked 
the treaty of Fort Jackson, which he rightly saw was the be- 
ginning of the Seminole war, and which he read for the first 
time in order to get material for this debate. "This treaty," 
he said, "aroused his 'deepest mortification and regret. A 
more dictatorial spirit he had never seen displayed in any in- 
strument, ' not even in the treaties which Rome forced from the 
Barbarians. It spared to the poor Indians neither their homes, 
their property, nor their prophets. 'When,' he would ask, 
'even did conquering and desolating Rome fail to respect the 
altars and the gods of those whom she subjugated!' Let me 
not be told that these prophets were impostors, who deceived 

^Annals of Congress, isth congress, 2nd session, volume I., 138, 588, 1136. 


the Indians. They were their prophets — the Indians believed 
and venerated them, and it is not for us to dictate a reUgious 
beUef to them. It does not belong to the holy character of the 
religion which we profess, to carry its precepts, by force of the 
bayonet, into the bosoms of other people. Mild and gentle 
persuasion was the great instrtmient employed by the meek 
founder of our religion. We leave to the humane and benevolent 
efforts of the reverend professors of Christianity to convert 
from barbarism those unhappy nations yet immersed in its 
gloom. But sir, spare them their prophets! Spare their 
delusions! Spare their prejudices and superstitions! Spare 
them even their religion, such as it is, from open and cruel 
violence." Clay went on to say that the treaty of Fort Jackson 
was void because it was signed by a minority of the Creek 
chiefs, and consequently the treaty of Ghent would operate 
to restore the Creek lands. 

The suggestion that Jackson aimed to convert the Creeks was 
laughable, the plea for their religion was whimsical, and the 
assertion that the Creek lands should be re-ceded was ih advised. 
They must have been made through a reckless desire to construct 
argimients. They were seized on by the opposition to show 
how little Clay knew of the subject about which he was speaking. 

But from this point the Kentuckian proceeded with more 
caution. The capture of the Indian chiefs at St. Marks was 
condemned because it was done by placing a British flag where 
only the American colors should be; their execution, because it 
was our first use of retaliation, only to be allowed when it acts 
as a deterrent, which could not here be alleged. The argument 
was specious: false colors are allowed as ruses of war, and the 
Indians were expert in devising similar decoys; moreover, the 
execution of Francis was calculated to have a deterrent force 
with the savages who had believed him all powerful through 
his relation with England. 


I do not find in Clay's speech that moderation which his 
best biographer attributes to it.' He was ever a brilliant advo- 
cate, rarely a man of balanced judgment. He made many telling 
hits, but they were usually obscured by exaggeration or weakened 
by omissions. For example, he demolished Jackson's defini- 
tion of international law as applied to Arbuthnot and Ambrister, 
but he would not see the point made by Hohnes, of Massachu- 
setts, that white men who instigate savage war ought not to 
be allowed to plead the laws of civilized warfare. Nor was it 
fair to compare the execution of Ambrister to that of the Due 
d'Enghein; for though there were similar outward circum- 
stances, and these Clay stressed, the purposes of the two acts 
were entirely different. But the speech was nevertheless a 
good one and not so turgid as most of the others in the debate. 

The weakest point in Clay's speech is in the following: 

Recall to your recollections the free nations which have 
gone before us. Where are they now and how have they lost 
their liberties? If we could transport ourselves back to the 
ages when Greece and Rome flourished in their greatest pros- 
perity, and, mhigUng in the throng, ask a Grecian if hedidnot fear 
some daring military chieftain, covered with glory, some Philip 
or Alexander, would one day overthrow his liberties? No! no! 
the confident and indignant Grecian would exclaim, we have 
nothing to fear from our heroes; our hberties will be eternal. 
If a Roman citizen had been asked if he did not fear the con- 
queror of Gaul might establish a throne upon the ruins of the 
pubHc hberty, he wovild have instantly repelled the unjust in- 
sinuation. Yet Greece had fallen, Cjesar had passed the Rubi- 
con, and the patriotic arm even of Brutus could not preserve 
the hberties of his country! The celebrated Madame de StaLl, 
in her last and perhaps best work, has said, that in the very year, 
almost the very month, when the President of the Directory, 

■SchuTZ, Life of Clay, I., IS4- 


declared that monarchy would never more show its frightful 
head m France, Bonaparte, with his grenadiers, entered the 
palace of St. Cloud, and, dispersing with the bayonet the depu- 
ties of the people, deliberating on the affairs of the state, laid 
the foundations of that vast fabric of despotism which over- 
shadowed all Europe. He hoped not to be misunderstood; 
he was far from intimating that General Jackson cherished 
any designs inimical to the liberties of the country. He be- 
lieved his intentions pure and patriotic. He thanked God 
that he would not, but he thanked him still more that he could 
not, if he would, overturn the liberties of the RepubHc. But 
precedents, if bad, were fraught with the most dangerous con- 
sequences. Man has been described by some of those who 
have treated of his nature as a bundle of habits. The defini- 
tion was much truer when applied to governments. Prece- 
dents were their habits. There was one important difference 
between the formation of habits by an individual and by gov- 
ernments. He contracts it only after frequent repetition. 
A single instance fixes the habit and determines the direction 
of governments.' 

This utterance was pointless if it did not imply that Jackson 
as a military hero was a menace to the coimtry, not so much 
for what he had done as for what he might do. The public 
so understood it, and it proved the beginning of many repeti- 
tions of the same charge. It was a foolish imputation, because, 
as Clay admitted in making it, Jackson neither would nor 
could overthrow the popular attachment to the constitution. 
It could hardly injure Jackson, because the populace, to whom 
it would ordinarily appeal, were safely won by his military 
achievement. Moreover, it was the kind of speech which would 
wound most severely Jackson's self-esteem. The cry of mili- 
tary hero was raised many times after this in derogation of his 
ambition, but it did not lessen his popularity. 

Jackson arrived in Washington on January 27th, when the 

^Annals of Congress, 15th 'congress, and session, volume I., 653. 


tide ran in his favor, so far as the house debate was concerned. 
He remained at his hotel, refusing to accept invitations to dine 
until the vote of the representatives on February 8th acquitted 
him of wrong-doing. But he had not the same feeling in regard 
to the senate, where another investigation was pending. Feb- 
ruary nth, he set out for New York, allowing himself to be 
f^ted on the way like a conqueror. In Philadelphia the festivi- 
ties lasted four days. In New York the freedom of the city 
was presented in a gold box, and Tammany gave a great dinner 
at which the leading guest, much to the dismay of the young 
Van Buren and other supporters of Crawford, toasted DeWitt 
CUnton, the leader of the opposing republican faction. In 
Baltimore, on the return trip, there was more rejoicing. Ad- 
mirers gave a dinner and the city council asked him to sit for 
a picture by Peale for their council room. Everjrwhere there 
were overwhelming popular demonstrations which gratified 
Jackson and strengthened him in the conviction that his course 
was right. Keen-eyed pohticians, friends of the administration 
and opponents, watched the ovations closely, and many wondered 
what effect they would have on the deliberations of the senate, 
whose report was not made when Jackson left the capitol. 

But the senate, little impressed by outdoor clamor, proceeded 
with accustomed dignity. The Seminole matter was in the 
hands of a select committee of which Abner Lacock, of Penn- 
sylvania, a friend of Crawford, was chairman. He was a quiet 
gentleman, indefatigable m collecting evidence and unterrified 
when mm or said that Jackson, blustering at his hotel, was 
swearing he would cut off the ears of any member of the com- 
mittee who opposed him. February 24th, Lacock submitted a 
long report which was printed the next day in The Intelligencer. 
Its tone was cahn and argumentative and its conclusions alto- 
gether against the invasion of Florida. Jackson said that he 
first saw it on March ist, in Baltimore, and that leaving that 


city at nine at night he rode back to Washington before dawn 
of the second in order to meet the new crisis. It is rather 
singular that it took the report four days to arrive in Baltimore 
and only eight hours for Jackson to cover the same distance 
southward. He came in a great rage and the streets were full 
of his threats. A story generally believed at the time and not 
positively denied by Jackson was that he was only prevented 
by Commodore Decatur from personally attacking Eppes, a 
member of the senate committee, for strictures made on him. 

But all this excitement was unwarranted. The committee, 
with or without design, had waited so long to submit the report 
that it was impossible to debate it. It was ordered to be printed 
and lie on the table, from which it was not taken before the 
session expired by constitutional Umitation on March 4th. 
Its publication in The Intelligencer brought forth in the same 
paper some "Strictures on Mr. Lacock's Report,"' and this 
was followed by a reply from Lacock.' Before it was pubHshed 
Jackson was off for Tennessee, where he was received with 
€clat from Knoxville to Nashville. The latter place provided 
a dinner and an address of welcome in which the coimtry was 
assured that he was still the hero of his own people. 

Jackson's friends attributed the investigation to the desire 
of the Clay and Crawford groups to discredit a rival. Direct 
evidence here is hardly to be expected, but it is difl&cult to be- 
lieve that aU the zeal against Jackson was disinterested. When 
the matter came up the administration had already settled 
it in a manner which has the sanction of posterity. The posts 
would be relinquished, and thus Jackson's design for permanent 
occupation was repudiated. Why disturb aU that had been 
done in order to censure our foremost coirmiander whose error, 
if there were one, was excessive zeal in defeating the enemy 

'See Parton, II., Jackson, 569-571. 
'IttielUgmcer, March 8, 1819. 
'IbU, March 20, 1819. 


and adding to the national patrimony? As to Arbuthnot and 
Ambrister, why should his own government punish Jackson 
on their account when not even the British government resented 
their fate? Jackson's candidacy disturbed two of his antag- 
onists in the presidential race: it lessened Clay's hold on the 
West and Crawford's on the South. Calhoun, Southern though 
he was, was not so much affected. He had, it is true, some 
strength in North Carolina, where Jackson might expect to 
compete with him. But his only other Southern strength lay 
in South Carolina, which was safe enough. Calhoun's greatest 
hope was in those middle states which were attached to the 
tariff and to internal improvements, and in the chance that he 
might get New England if Adams could not be elected.' 

Before the investigation ended its promoters realized that 
it was likely to make more friends than opponents for Jackson. 
The country tired of the house debates long before they were 
concluded: it would not tolerate a repetition in the senate, 
and it was wise to drop the matter. Moreover, pubhshing the 
committee's report accomplished aU that could be expected 
from a fuller investigation. It submitted Jackson's conduct 
to the consideration of thoughtful people, so that they might 
determine whether or not he was the kind of a man who ought 
to aspire to the presidency. 

An incident which occurred in connection with Lacock's 
report gives us, also, a view of Jackson's mind and may help us 
to answer the question which his opponents in 18 19 desired 
to submit to the pubhc. As the story goes Capt. James 
Gadsden wrote Jackson that Crawford was said on good authority 
to have written a letter to Clay proposing a combination to de- 
feat the reelection of Monroe. The general must have re- 
peated the gossip; for when he arrived in Washington he had 

•In 1831, Jackson with weak arguments charged Calhoun with promoting the investigation of 1819. La- 
cock and Calhoun denied it. See Benton, View, I., 180, and Parton, Jackson, II., 553. 


a call from General Swift, Gadsden's informant, in which the 
visitor asked who was authority for the statement. Jackson, 
not knowing that Swift had spoken to Gadsden, gave the name 
of the latter, when Swift said: "He has not treated me gener- 
ously; but it is true: I am the man: I saw the letter and read 
it," adding that he and Crawford were now friends and that 
he hoped the matter would be dropped. Later Jackson called 
on Monroe, who said that Crawford denied writing such a letter 
to Clay. The President added that Crawford would be a villain 
if he, a member of his cabinet, should attempt such an intrigue. 
Then Jackson said to him: "Say to Mr. William H. Crawford 
from me that he is a villain, and that he dare not put his pen 
to paper and sign his name to the declaration that he never 
wrote such a letter to Mr. Clay: if he does, say to him from me, 
if I do not prove it upon him, I will apologize to him in every 
gazette in the United States." Monroe replied by cautioning 
Jackson against relying too much on Swift, who in a pinch might 
"trip." But the general repUed that "tripping was out of the 
question with me: no man should do it." 

Swift did indeed prove a broken reed. Hearing that his 
name was used he called on Jackson and said that Crawford's 
letter was merely a letter of introduction. The Tennesseean 
was thunderstruck and assuming his sternest tone said that 
he coiUd not be mistaken. The caller remained silent a moment 
and asked if there was no way of reconciling Jackson and Craw- 
ford. "I told him," said the former, "that there was none, 
I knew him [Crawford] to be a villain, that I had made it a rule 
through life never to take a rascal by the hand knowing him to 
be such, that I never gave hand where my heart could not go 
also; believing as I did of Mr. Crawford I never would take him 
by the hand." Here the immediate quarrel rested. Before 
that Jackson had been told that Lacock's report would not be 
submitted to the senate, but when it at last came forth he con- 


eluded that Crawford, having failed to secure a truce with his 
enemy, had decided to carry the matter as far as possible.' 

Gadsden was from South CaroHna, as was A. P. Hayne, brother 
of the famous antagonist of Webster. Both were military men 
with good records of service under Jackson, and both seemed at 
this time to have hopes of political careers under his protection. 
Both were drawn into association with Calhoun and went into 
eclipse with that unfortimate leader. A letter of this period 
from the second shows to what degree of flattery one of his in- 
timates was AviUing to go in propitiating the favor of the chief. 
"What does the President of the United States not owe you," 
exclaimed Hayne, "for the prompt support you have always 
given his administration? In 18 14 and 181 5, you snatched 
the republican party and Mr. Monroe from almost inevitable 
destruction, and in the present instance you have most effectu- 
ally saved the latter. Your personal presence has silenced all 
opposition to his administration; and has ensured his second 

General Jackson regarded the Lacock report as a manifesto 
of his enemies and insisted that it should be answered. Overton 
tried to dissuade him, but he replied that this issue ought to 
be met whenever raised. Overton yielded and during the 
autimin completed, under Jackson's supervision, the defense 
of the Seminole war. "The answer," said the general in send- 
ing it to Eaton for submission to his friends, "is drew with 
Christian mildness, brings before the reader the facts, and a 
reference to the documents proves them ... In this as in 
every other thing pertaining to this unpleasant business I leave 
[all] to your and my friends Judgment, after having expressed 
my opinion on the subject; let aU your deliberations be founded 
on this: that I fear not investigation, but court it, wherever it 

'Jackson to Gadsden, August i, 1819; Gadsden to Jackson, February 6, 1820, Jackson Mss. 
'Hayne to Jackson, March 6, iSro, Jackson Mss. 


is necessary for the understanding of the nation.'" This letter 
probably expressed the writer's true relation to the friends who 
brought him into the political arena; he had his way in es- 
sentials but yielded much to their guidance in matters of detail, 

Eaton, receiving the memorial, conferred with Rufus King, 
of New York, and WiUiam Pinckney, of Maryland, both sup- 
porters of the administration; and it was decided to soften some 
of the parts and to omit those which imputed maUce to the 
Lacock committee. A reference to Crawford as "the gentleman 
who was the chief juggler behind the scenes" was dropped and 
Eaton explained it to Jackson by saying that nobody would 
beheve anyway that Lacock could write the report. February 
23, 1820, King presented the memorial in the senate and Pinckney 
made a speech in its support.' Many people were annoyed at 
the prospect of opening again the Seminole matter, but their 
fears subsided when King agreed to be satisfied if the memorial 
were printed and made a matter of record. His desire was 
granted and here the Seminole affair ended. It pleased Jackson 
that his cause in the senate was defended by such prominent 
men as King and Pinckney; and the rosy accoimts Eaton sent 
of the effects put him in good humor.' 

One of the charges against Jackson in connection with the 
Seminole war involved his personal integrity. It was alleged 
that he was concerned in a land speculation in Pensacola and 
that he seized the town in order to enhance his property there. 
This damaging story had no other basis than this: In the au- 
tumn of 181 7, eight of his Nashville friends formed an association 
to buy real estate in Pensacola, believing that Florida would 
soon be acquired and that lands there would increase in value. 
Jackson gave their agent a letter of introduction to the Spanish 

■Jsclcson to Eaton, November 19, i8ig, Jackson Mss. 
*Annais of Congress, xsth congress, and session, volume 2, 2308. 
'Eaton to Jackson, March xi and 15, April 3 and z6, 1830, Jackson Mgs. 


governor, in order to vouch for the respectability of the pro- 
moters. The agent left Nashville in November and bought 
some land in and near Pensacola. The whole transaction 
was completed before the news that Jackson was ordered to. 
conduct the Indian campaign reached NashviUe. Eaton, 
who was one of the speculators, asserted that it was imdertaken 
solely because it was believed that Florida was about to be 
acquired. He may have had some inkling of the progress of 
the negotiations, then just re-opened by Pizarro; but there is 
no reason to doubt his assertion that Jackson was in no sense 
a beneficiary of the scheme.' The interest of the latter in the 
acquisition of the province was wholly patriotic: he did not 
at that time suspect he was destined to have the honor of 
becoming its first governor under American rule. 

^Annals of Congress, 15th congress, and session, volume 3, 2300. 



Before following Jackson into the field of national politics 
it is necessary to consider his governorship of Florida, the last 
phase of his public career before he became a presidential candi- 
date. To receive the province from Spain, to wave adieu 
gracefully to the former masters, and to inaugurate American 
rule with the least friction possible was a delicate task. It 
required more tact and consideration for others than Jackson 
possessed. For this reason this episode is the least credible 
of his national career. 

Soon after the Seminole war Jackson expressed a desire to 
leave the army, but did not withdraw, probably because of the 
congressional investigation. After that was past there was 
some probability that Spain's unwillingness to ratify the Florida 
treaty would lead to war, and in such a situation he would not 
resign. But on February 22, 1821, the treaty was at last pro- 
claimed by Monroe, and Jackson prepared to fulfil his purpose. 
Before he could do so the Florida governorship was offered. 

To many people it seemed but proper that he who had twice 
raised the American flag in Pensacola should first unfurl it 
there in token of permanent American possession. Monroe 
thought as much and opened the matter when Jackson was in 
Washington in 1819, but the offer was then declined. It was 
renewed January 24, 182 1, and at first the general was inclined 
to accept; "but," as he said, "on more mature reflection added 
to the repugnance of Mrs. Jackson to go to that country I have 
declined and so I have wrote to the President and secretary of 



war." But later than this he yielded, his chief purpose being, 
as he admitted, to place some of his friends in the subordi- 
nate offices which he thought "would be filled through his sug- 
gestion.' His commission was dated March loth, and modified 
on March 20th, but he did not assume the government until 
June ist, when he relinquished his military office." 

His powers as governor were ample. Until the end of the 
next session of congress he was to exercise all the authority 
which belonged under the old regime to the captain-general 
of Cuba and to his subordinate governors of East and West 
Florida. He might suspend officials not appointed by the 
President, but he might not lay new taxes or grant public lands, 
and his salary was $5,000, the same as when -a major-general. 
He was also made commissioner to receive the territory with 
authority to appoint a deputy and with additional allowances 
for expenses.' 

Before Jackson arrived in Pensacola to receive the province, 
Colonel Forbes was sent to Havana with orders from the 
Spanish goverimient to the captain-general to deliver Florida 
to the American commissioner, together with the public archives 
and all papers relating to the titles of private property, which 
by treaty were to be surrendered. When he received from 
Havana the necessary orders to the officials at Pensacola 
and St. Augustine, he was to repair to the former place. At the 
same time the Spanish minister in Washington asked that 
American troops should not enter Pensacola until the Spanish 
troops were withdrawn, and the request was allowed. Thus 
Jackson's prompt entrance into his government depended on 
the early completion of the negotiations in Havana.' 

'Monroe to Jackson, January 24, 1821; Jackson to Bronaugh, February 11, June 9, 1821; Jackson to 
Monroe, August 4, 1821, Jackson Mss. 

'See Jackson Mss. March 10 and 20, 1821. 

■Adams to Jackson, March 12, 1821, Jackson Mss. 

'Adams to Jackson, March 12, 1821; Adams to de Anduciga, November 2, 1821; Adams to Forbes, March 
10, 1821; Jackson Mss. 


But Forbes had all kinds of difl&culties in Cuba, due, it seems, 
to the lack of good will in the officials there. He wasted six 
weeks in fruitless endeavors to get the archives and at last 
departed without them, arriving in Florida about June i, 182 1.' 
Meantime, Jackson, accompanied by his wife and a group of 
friends, was proceeding to his post. In New Orleans they 
were received with marked respect, and AprU 30th, they halted 
at Montpelier, in southern Alabama, to await the movements 
of Forbes. Here they remained five vexatious weeks, Jack- 
son's mind filled with suspicion of Spanish treachery. At 
length he proceeded into Florida and halted fifteen miles from 
Pensacola at the home of a Spanish gentleman. Mrs. Jackson 
and most of the companions found quarters in the town, but he 
declared that he would not see it until he could go under his 
own banner to plant his flag for the third time on its walls. 
There were various other delays, and it was not imtil July 15th 
that, all difl&culties removed, he prepared to enter Pensacola. 
He was now in the best of spirits and wrote to a friend in town 
as follows: 

General Jackson with his compliments to Dr. Brunough 
informs him that the General will be in Pensacola to break- 
fast on Tuesday at half after six A. m. and a number of the 
ofi6cers of the army as well as ofiicers of the navy from the 
Hornet. Will the Doctor have the goodness to aid Lt. Donald- 
son in making the necessary preparations for Brakfass, and also 
Dinner. The Scripture says return good for evil, in this feeling 
I intend asking the govr and his secretaires to dine with me. 
He is as I suppose, very sore, and if he was devoid of urbanity 
I mean to show him I at least possess magnanimity by which 
I will heap coals of fire upon his head. Had I agreed with the 
ceremony this day proposed by him we would have had no time 
for dinner; but as useless ceremony is a great tax upon me I have 

^Iq 1832, Jackson, when President, demanded from Spain, the archives taken from Florida to Havana 
and got what he asked, Richardson, Messages and Papers, of the Presidents. II., 593. 


waved all that could be dispensed with and I suppose we will 
get through about eleven o'clock and have the star spangled 
banner waving over our dinner. I have been compelled to-day 
to respond to three long letters. My answers were short. 

The designated Tuesday was July 17th, and promptly at 
7 A. M., the American troops approached the place, their band 
playing joyously. Natives and eager American speculators 
and ofl&ce-seekers lined the streets, all anxious to see the begin- 
ning of a new era in the sleepy town. The procession moved 
down Main Street, passed the great house from the balcony 
of which Mrs. Jackson looked fondly at the straight horseman 
who led it, and halted at the government house, where Governor 
CaUava with garrison in ranks awaited the final ceremonies. 
These were soon over. The keys were handed to the new 
owners, the Spanish flag flapped down the flag-staff, the Ameri- 
can emblem took its place, and the garrison at word of command 
turned from the scene to embark on vessels which were waiting 
in the harbor. The next morning the hot gulf breeze wafted 
them away, the last vestige of Spanish authority in West Florida, 
the American ship Hornet gallantly acting as escort. They 
carried 367 soldiers and ninety-seven civilians. Thirty-six 
oflScers and 137 others were allowed to stay on condition that 
they should go at their own expense within six months.' 

To Mrs. Jackson these scenes appealed strongly. The de- 
parture of the Spaniards excited the sympathy of her gentle 
soul, but the amusements of a Spanish Sunday shocked her 
stern Presbyterianism till she must interfere. "I sent," she 
wrote, "Major Stanton to say to them that the approaching 
Sunday woidd be differently kept. . . . Yesterday I had 
the happiness of witnessing the truth of what I said. Great 
order was observed; the doors kept shut; the gambling houses 

ijackson to Bronaugh, July is, 1821, Jackson Mss. 
=Callava'» agreement August, 1821, Jatkson Mss. 


demolished; fiddling and dancing not heard any more on the 
Lord's Day; cursing not to be heard." ' Another incident 
illustrates the sharp break in ideas for the province. As the 
American flag rose to the top of its staff a Methodist missionary, 
passing through the crowd, began to distribute tracts to the 
natives. He soon encountered an indignant Catholic priest 
who began to remonstrate against his action. For reply the 
missionary merely pointed to the new flag: his disappointed 
interlocutor silently turned away.' 

Governor Jackson's first dinner was hardly over before he 
was deep in a quarrel with his predecessor. Governor Callava. 
By the treaty Spain must surrender the forts intact and the 
United States furnish transportation for the garrisons. Noth- 
ing specific was said about cannon and provisions for the trans- 
ported garrisons. Secretary Adams, foreseeing trouble on this 
point, instructed Jackson that the guns ought to go with the 
forts and that he ought to furnish supplies, but that if Callava 
proposed to take away the cannon the provisions ought to be 
withheld as an offset. The contingency which Adams foresaw 
occurred. After much negotiation it was agreed to leave the 
guns and furnish provisions, and that the matter be referred 
to the two governments for adjustment, receipts being given 
for both cannon and provisions. When the cession was about 
to be made and Callava was sought to receipt for the suppUes, 
he reported that he was sick and could not be seen. His secre- 
tary gave his word that the receipt would be sent and the Ameri- 
cans delivered the provisions. But when the document arri^^ed 
and was translated it was seen to be no receipt but a certificate 
that supplies had been delivered in accordance with the treaty. 
This duplicity put Jackson in a rage : he wrote some plain letters 
to the Spaniard, from whom he received no satisfaction, and 

^Parton, Jackson, II., 604. Parton has undoubtedly improved Mrs. Jackson's language. 
'/6«, II.. 608. 


he closed the correspondence abruptly on August 3d, with 
the assurance that he had no further confidence in the state- 
ments of his correspondent and would have no further dealings 
with him. To Adams he expressed "a hope that my govern- 
ment will stamp his perfidy with such marks of displeasure, as 
will convince Spanish officers hereafter to comply with their 
engagements of honor." ' Yet in spite of his declaration he was 
to have much more to do with Callava. 

His governorship was hardly begun before office-seekers 
began to beset him. Some were former political friends, others 
were his old soldiers, for whom he was ever sympathetic, and 
to aU he gave patient hearing. One of the applicants, David 
Cowan, more importunate than the others, enlisted the sympa- 
thies of Mrs. Jackson by picturing the distressed condition of 
his family. She, who understood not the wiles of the ofl&ce 
hunter, replied that if there was an ofl&ce in her husband's gift 
that would relieve Cowan's condition she would use her in- 
fluence to have it go to the petitioner. The condition was not 
hard to meet, since he was willing to be inspector of provisions, 
or he could, to quote his own words, "with equal capacity and 
dignity fill the ofl&ce of notary public, city magistrate, or sheriff, 
by the advice of an attorney who has promised his assistance." 
He became port-warden and within a month was in a squabble 
with the merchants of the town because of his large fees.' In 
this incident appears Jackson's conception of his duty as dis- 
penser of patronage; later and in a higher ofl&ce he showed it 
was not improved. 

Launching the new government was made more difl&cult 
by the lack of the important subordinate ofl&cers. Of those 
whom Monroe had appointed, not one was in Florida on July 1 7th. 
Jackson found a remedy "in assigning their duties to his stafl[ 

'Adams to Jackson, March 12, 1821; Jackson to Callava, August 3, 1821; Ibid to Monroe, August 4. iS:i, 
Jackson Mss. 
'Cowan to Jackson, July 13, 1821, Jackson Mss. 


chiefly to Dr. Bronaugh, R. K. Call, and H. M. Brackenridge, 
the last of whom spoke Spanish. A deputy commissioner was 
sent off to St. Augustine to receive the surrender of East Florida. 
July 27th, came Eligius Fromentin, one of the two newly ap- 
pointed federal judges. He was already known in Pensacola 
where he was United States agent pending the completion of 
the treaty; and on his departure he left nimierous debts for 
which judgments were obtained in his absence. When Jackson 
arrived he was shocked to see notices of these judgments posted 
on the street corners, according to custom in such cases. It 
was not the first unfavorable impression he had of the judge. 
"I have no unfriendly feeling towards Mr. Fromentin," he wrote 
at this time to Monroe. "He is a polite, gentlemanly man, but 
from the character given him both here and in Orleans, both 
as to his capacity as a judge and his moral character, I cannot 
confide in him." ' When Jackson could not "confide" in a man 
he was in a fair way to quarrel with him.' 

In the meantime, CaUava remained in Pensacola, undoubtedly 
losing his character as governor. The treaty provided that 
cession should be complete within six months after ratification, 
or by August 2 2d, and if any authority inhered in him by 
reason of his former governorship it might be considered to have 
ceased at the end of this period. But he was also commissioner 
to make the transfer. International comity would aUow him 
reasonable time to complete his business as commissioner, 
and lais continuation in the place was with Jackson's consent. 
He was a Spanish officer for a particular purpose and had per- 
sonally the status of an accredited agent. As such he was 
exempt from arrest and trial by the ordinary courts of the 

ijackson to Monroe, August 4, 1821, Jackson Mss. 

^Fromentin, a French Jesuit, was expelled from France during the Revolution, came to Maryland, where 
be married into an influential family, read law and settled in New Orleans to practise that profession. His 
character and talents were poor; but by suavity and boldness be secured a short term in the United States 
senate, and through the efforts of his wife's relatives. President Monroe, not knowing his qualifications, ap- 
pointed him federal judge in Florida. He was thoroughly incompetent for the duties of the office. 


country, and his property, domicile, and the public papers in 
his charge were inviolate as long as he kept within the limits 
of his official duty. 

Callava and Fromentin were soon closely associated, and 
with them was John Innerarity, Pensacola representative of 
the rich Mobile traders, Forbes & Company. This great house, 
long enjoying under Spanish protection special advantages in 
the Indian trade, was unpopular with the Americans, who 
thought it stimulated Indian outrages, and Jackson shared their 
prejudice. He was chagrined, also, to learn that some of his 
own ofiScers fell, soon after their arrival, under the influence 
of Callava's circle. Thus, an explosion was imminent, and the 
lawsuit of the Vidal heirs furnished the necessary occasion. 

Nicholas Maria Vidal, a Spanish mihtary auditor, died in 
1806, leaving large landed property near Baton Rouge and other 
effects in Pensacola. By will he left his estate, after his debts 
were paid, to his mulatto children in Pensacola. The property 
went into the hands of Forbes & Company for settlement. 
It was not quite clear what they did about it; but after some 
years the heirs had received no returns and applied to the courts 
to force a settlement. Several orders to Innerarity to deliver 
the papers to the court were avoided in one way or another 
till 1820, when he at last was compelled to deliver the papers, 
ten years after he assumed the task of executing the Vidal 
will. The auditor, Saures, who received them, declared that 
proceedings under the will had been wholly irregular and con- 
fused and he recommended that suit be brought to annul all 
that had been done and to force the executors to account to 
the heirs. The recommendations were not acted upon, but 
on July 10, 1820, Callava signed a decree ordering Innerarity 
within ten days to make report of his accounts as executor, 
and to deposit in the royal treasury certain sums within five 
days. This decree, also, was evaded. By this statement of 


the facts, taken from the report of Alcalde Brackenridge,' there 
was appearance of fraud and an investigation was justified. 

About the end of July, 1821, the new alcalde was visited by 
Mercedes Vidal, quadroon and natural daughter of the deceased 
Vidal. She demanded justice against Innerarity, exhibited a 
record of proceedings in the case until 1820, admitted that she 
secured it clandestinely in the fear that it would be taken away 
by Callava with other records, and declared that she knew not 
the whereabouts of the will and other testamentary papers. 
A few days later she reported that they were in the hands of 
Sousa, a clerk of Callava, and that she was allowed to make 
copies by taking them out piecemeal. Brackenridge scented 
illegality and got her to bring him an instalment as evidence. 
He then spoke to Jackson, who said that if proof were sufi&cient 
he would make a formal demand for the papers. Accordingly, 
on August 2ist, formal demand was made to Sousa, who refused 
to deliver the documents, pleading that he was but an agent; 
and he seized the first opportunity 'to send his papers to 
the house of his superior. He was promptly arrested and 
taken, much terrified, before Governor Jackson, who, him- 
self much excited, ordered that the prisoner be carried under 
guard to the house of CaUava, there to surrender the required 
papers, in default of which he was to be thrown into the town 

By this time it was the afternoon of the twenty-second, and 
Callava was at dinner with Innerarity, Fromentin, Captain Kear- 
ney, of the navy, and others, ladies and gentlemen, at the house of 
Colonel Brooke, of the 4th infantry; and Brooke's residence was 
in the immediate neighborhood of Callava's. It was half past 
four o'clock when Colonel Butler, Brackenridge, and Dr. Bro- 
naugh stopped at the house of the Spaniard and learned that 
he was stiU at the house of Colonel Brooke at dinner. Not 

^American Slate Papers, Miscellaneous, II., 8ii. 


desiring to disturb him they returned half an hour later to be 
told that he was still absent. They then went to the house of 
the host and sent word that they would like to see CaUava at 
his own home. It is inconceivable that he did not know well 
enough all that was passing in this interval. In fact, by his 
story, Sousa appeared at the dinner table to tell him what was 
wanted and an aide was sent to Jackson to say that if a list of 
the desired papers was furnished they would be given up if 
they were such as ought not to be taken away. The messenger 
soon returned saying that he found Jackson in a towering rage 
walking about and shouting, "Colonel CaUava to the dungeon!" 
This announcement, says CaUava at the table where company 
was assembled, "could not but raise a blush in my face, and dis- 
order in my stomach, in the very act of eating, and in the conva- 
lescent state in which I was I felt myself attacked by a deadly 
pain (which I ahnost habitually suffered and which had frequently 
attacked me in the preceding days)." But he bravely concealed 
his inconvenience and left the table to reflect on what course 
he ought to pursue. 

In the street he encoimtered the American ofl&cers who told 
him with as much kindness as the situation warranted that 
they must have the papers or arrest him. They assured him 
that Governor Jackson could consider him in no other light 
than as a private person. There was further conversation to 
this effect, and feeling the pain returning he told them he was 
iU and that they must teU "Don Andrew Jackson" that he was 
iU and could not leave his house, whereupon they went away. 
Now "Don Andrew Jackson" weU remembered that in the pre- 
ceding month CaUava evaded his promise in regard to the receipt 
for provisions on the ground of sickness, and he was in no mood 
to aUow such a pretext to serve again for purposes of deceit. 
Moreover, the American ofi&cials were reasonably gentle with 
him, "An hour, at least," says Brackenridge, who acted as 


interpreter, "was taken up in the conversation; everything 
was fully explained: the written order from the Governor, 
containing a specification of the papers, the declaration of Sousa 
that they had been delivered to his steward; and repeated de- 
mands were made for them. He insisted on his alleged rights 
as commissioner; he said, if the papers were demanded of him 
in that capacity, or as late governor, and by writing, he would 
reply" — all of which shows that Colonel Callava had his 
own share of stubbornness. 

As they were withdrawing to report his refusal he said that 
if a list of the documents was delivered to him he would send 
them, neglecting to say that he spoke as a commissioner of his 
government. Half an hour later Brackenridge returned with 
such a list. He fovmd Callava packing up papers, preparing 
a protest, and acting generally as if he thought everything he 
owned was to be taken from him. He was assured that only 
certain documents were wanted, a list of which was deUvered, 
and he was informed that the papers desired would be called 
for in two hours. He said he would reply to the demand if it 
was directed to him as commissioner, and this part of the in- 
terview closed. Callava, feeling rather depressed, now went to 

In the meantime, a report of the whole transaction was made 
to Jackson. He was very angry and wrote the following order 
to Colonel Brooke, Callava's late host: 

Sm: — You will furnish an officer, sergeant, corporal, and 
twenty men, and direct the officer to call on me by half past 
eight o'clock for orders. They will have their arms and accoutre- 
ments complete, with twelve rounds of ammunition. 

No news coming from the Spanish commissioner, the guard 
marched to his house at nine o'clock. They found the place 


"Leaving the guard at the gate and in the street, " says Brack- 
enridge, who was present, "we entered the garden in front of the 
house, after removing the bar by which the gate was fastened. 
The house was shut up; the door locked. On our entering the 
porch, we heard a bustle inside resembling the rattling of arms. 
Admittance was three times demanded by me in Spanish, but 
no answer was returned. I then went round, and discovered 
several persons in the porch on the side fronting the bay. The 
guard was ordered round, and formed in front of high steps 
which lead up to the porch; they had a short time before been 
ordered into the garden, and had been drawn up before the front 
door. On ascending the steps, inquiries were made for Colonel 
Callava; they all remained silent: on the question being re- 
peated, it was observed by some one that he did not know. 
The only light was a candle burning in one of the rooms. Colonel 
Butler ordered a candle to be brought from some of the neigh- 
bouring houses. After waiting fifteen minutes, it was resolved 
to enter the haU, and some one brought out the candle. Two 
or three of the soldiers were then ordered up; we then entered 
the room where the candle had been burning, and Colonel 
Callava rose from the bed, with his coat off, and expressed 
great surprise at our entering his house at that time of night. 
The papers were then demanded of him, as is stated in the report 
of Colonel Butler and Dr. Bronaugh. He persisted in the same 
reason which he had before repeatedly alleged. Every possible 
means was used to induce him to surrender the papers; the 
boxes containing them were in view, and he was told that if he 
would not break them open we would take them. He was at 
length told, that, having refused to dehver the papers, he must 
go before the Governor, who was then sitting in his ofl&ce and 
waiting our return. He at first said that he might be assassi- 
nated or murdered, but that he would not leave his house alive. 
Colonel Butler told him repeatedly that he might consider him- 
self as taken forcibly from his house, and hoped he would not 
render it necessary to use actual force. It was impossible to 
have used greater delicacy to any one under similar circum- 
stances. When the guard was at length ordered up, and the 
officer ordered to take him into custody, he consented to go; 


more than half an hour having passed from the time of our en- 
tering the house."' 

Unfortunately, Callava's account does not agree in details 
with that of Brackenridge. "They surrounded my bed," he 
said, "with soldiers having drawn bayonets in their hands, they 
removed the mosquito net, they made me sit up, and demanded 
the papers or they would use arms against me." He told them 
that as they had used force the boxes and papers were in their 
hands and he would appeal to the United States government. 
He had a written protestby him which one of his friends tried 
to translate to the ofi&cers, but they forbade him. After a whUe 
an officer told him he was under arrest. "I answered," he says, 
"that I was so, but he would have the goodness to observe 
that I was so sick as that I ought not to be taken out of my house 
at that hour. He made no answer to the interpreter, and re- 
mained silent, but one of the three boldly ordered me to dress; 
I dressed in my uniform, was going to put on my sword, but 
on reflection thought it better to deliver it to the officers. I 
did so and one of the three took it from his hands, and threw 
it upon the chimney, and in this manner I was conducted through 
the streets among the troops." 

It was now ten o'clock, but the governor was waiting in his 
office in the capacity of judge. The prisoner was given a seat 
and Brackenridge was directed to act as interpreter. Being 
informed why he was brought to court, Callava rose to protest, 
saying that he was commissioner of Spain and not answerable 
in a private capacity. Then Jackson declared he would receive 
no protest against his jurisdiction. After some argument it 
was agreed that CaUava might answer in writing. "I sat 
down," he says, "to write a regular protest, that I might go 
on to answer afterwards, but I had hardly begun, when Don 
Andrew Jackson took the paper from before me, and wath much 

^American State Papers. Miscellaneous, II., 830, 


violence, and furious gestures, spoke for some time looking at 
the bystanders, and when he had concluded the interpreter 
told me that he ordered me to give no other answer to all that 
he had asked me but yes or no." 

The scene was now most exciting. In the centre sat the prin- 
cipals both very angry; around them in the lamplight were 
the crowd of onlookers. Callava persisting in his contention 
was quivering with emotion. Jackson was raging violently, now 
threatening his opponent and now his own supporters. "Why 
do you not tell him, sir, that I will not permit him to protest?" 
he exclaimed to Brackenridge. The latter in the confusion called 
on Cruzat, Callava's secretary, to assist in interpreting, but 
Cruzat refused. The turmoil continued for some time, when 
the Spanish commissioner finally remained silent, declaring 
that he would answer in writing and as a commissioner of Spain 
or not at all. Then was called FuUarat, the steward into whose 
hands Sousa delivered the boxes of papers. He testified that 
the boxes were in the house of his master: this was the necessary 
proof that the papers were in Callava's possession, and they 
were formally demanded. Callava and Jackson then began 
a heated dialogue. "The governor," says Brackenridge, "in 
the same manner, enforced his demand of the papers by a variety 
of reasons; he observed, they were such papers as were con- 
templated by the second article of the treaty, which was read 
to him; that it was his duty to see, for the safety of the in- 
habitants, and the protection of their rights, that all papers 
relating to the property of individuals should be left. The con- 
versation, as is natural, was warm on both sides and some ex- 
pressions were softened by me in the interpretation, and others, 
tending only to irritate and provoke, omitted altogether. These 
were principally the appeals of Colonel Callava to the bystanders, 
which were frequent, loud, and inflammatory; and, on the part 
of the governor, strong expressions against what he considered 


a combination between him and others to withdraw the evi- 
dences of the right of property required by individuals; which 
combination I understood, and so expressed it, to be between 
Colonel Callava, Sousa, and the steward Fullarat, but which 
seemed to excite some indignation, as he said, 'Sousa is my 
domestic, my servant; he is nothing in this business.'" This 
scene lasted till midnight, Jackson being much fatigued from 
irritation and from having sat as judge from forenoon with 
slight intermission. At length he "rose from his seat, and called 
on me distinctly to state that Colonel CaUava must deliver the 
papers, or abide by the consequences; he, at the same time, 
called upon the friends of Colonel Callava who understood 
English to explain to him the situation. It was fully explained 
to him. This was several times repeated, and, at length, a 
blank commitment, which had been prepared in case of neces- 
sity, was signed, and Colonel Callava committed to prison. 
The next day I presented petition to open the boxes and seize 
the papers, which was accordingly done."' To prison went, 
also, Fullarat and Sousa. 

Callava wrote an account of this painftd interview which 
he handed to the Spanish minister in Washington with his 
protest against the whole incident.' His account of the close of 
the trial is interesting. "When the commitment was read," 
says he, "I got upon my feet. I begged the interpreter to ask 
him if he did not shudder and was not struck with horror 
at insulting me, and I pronounced a solemn protest against his 
proceedings. The interpreter informed him, and he repUed that 
for what he had done he had no account to give but to his gov- 
ernment, and he told me I might protest before God himself." 
Callava was taken to prison at midnight, his house open and in 
the possession of United States officers, his money-chests and 

iBrackenridge's account is in American Stale Papers, Miscellaneous, II., 828. 
'Callava's protest, October 3, 1821, American State Papers, Foreign, IV., 768. 


other property at their mercy. He received in the prison the 
treatment of a common criminal, "and lastly," as he says, 
"by a respectable citizen of the United States and by my ofl&cers, 
at two in the morning a couch was spread for me and my other 
assistants, to throw ourselves down upon: for by Don Andrew 
Jackson I was permitted to throw myself, sick as I was, upon 
the bricks of the prison." 

When "Don Andrew Jackson" sought his own couch that 
night he probably consoled himself with the thought that he 
at.^last had a Spanish governor where he wanted him. Behind 
his^violent action lay a long series of official delays and subter- 
fuges which made the faith of a Spanish ofi&cial an offense in 
the eyes of most Americans who had aught to do with it. It was 
not improved by the conduct of CaUava and his friends in the 
prison on this same night. To him came a number of his officers 
and friends with food, wine, and cigars: a feast was improvised, 
jests and laughter filled the apartment, the recent trial was 
mockingly reenacted, and the rest of the night was turned into 
day. All traces of the commissioner's oft-pleaded iUness had 

Early next morning American officers seized the papers in 
CaUava's possession, took out of the boxes those which had 
been demanded, and sealed up the cases without disturbing 
other property. The Vidal suit was then brought to trial before 
the supreme court of the province, Jackson presiding with a 
local justice. Forbes & Company's plea of no jurisdiction was 
overruled, and three auditors were ordered to examine the 
accounts of the firm with the Vidal estate. October 6th, they 
reported, approving the settlement of the estate by the Span- 
ish authorities in 18 10, but stating that the expenses of the affair, 
$1,315.62 for property valued at $10,101.50, were excessive. 
They attacked the account at another point, disallowing a 
payment of $200 to Edward Livingston for suing out an attach- 


ment in New Orleans, not because it was exorbitant — as they 
might well have held — but because it was not properly charge- 
able to the estate. On this and other grounds they held that 
Forbes & Company had $496 belonging to the estate : and they 
suggested that the court determine whether or not the firm 
be held for two other claims which it was said they had paid 
but for which no receipts were produced. On consideration 
the court decided to demand the payment of the latter claims. 
Thus it was held that Forbes & Com^pany, after allowing 
some deductions, owed to the estate $683.06 as an undi- 
vided asset, which with interest since 18 10 was ordered to be 
paid within sixty days. In December, when Jackson was gone, 
the defendant petitioned for a new trial, giving such clear and 
satisfactory reason for it that the decision just cited seems 
overthrown at every point.' Unfortunately the means of 
determining the exact merits of the controversy are not now at 

In the meantime, let us return to CaUava. On the morning 
after his arrest his friends invoked the aid of Federal Judge 
Fromentin, who as a former resident of New Orleans should 
have remembered the experiences of Dominick Hall. On verbal 
request and without asking to see the warrant of commitment, 
he issued a writ of habeas corpus and in the absence of the mar- 
shal served it by a private citizen on the officer of the day 
who had CaUava in custody. Then the judge, awaiting the 
arrival of the prisoner, busied himself in writing a bail bond 
for the liberation of a man, the legality of whose detention he 
was yet to determine. While thus engaged he received a cita- 
tion to appear before Governor Jackson "to show cause why he 
has attempted to interfere with my authority as governor 
of the Floridas, exercising the powers of the captain-general 
and intendant of the island of Cuba over the said provinces, 

^American Slate Papers, Miscellaneous, II., 848-863, 873. 


respectively, in my judicial capacity as supreme judge over 
the same, and as chancellor thereof." 
Jackson's commission gave him authority: 

To exercise, within the said ceded territories, under such cir- 
cumstances as have been, or may hereafter be, prescribed to 
him by my instructions, and by law, all the powers and authori- 
ties heretofore exercised by the Governor and Captain General 
and Intendant of Cuba, and by the Governors of East and West 
Florida, within the said provinces, respectively. 

Under this grant of power Jackson believed himself possessed 
of the function of high judge, which was once exercised by the 
governor of West Florida; but the belief was not absolutely 
justifiable. It is true the governor was once a judge, but in 
1820 the Spanish cortes adopted a new constitution by which 
the colonial governors were restricted to military, poKtical, 
and financial functions, distinct judges being created for the 
trial of cases. This constitution was promulgated in Havana 
in January, 182 1, and it seems not to have been promxilgated 
in Florida, probably on account of the coming transfer of au- 
thority. Jackson held, and with muchplausibiUty, that the mantle 
of the old governor fell to him unshorn of the judicial power. 
Moreover, congress and the President evidently intended the 
governor of Florida to have temporarily the same wide powers 
as the first American governor of Louisiana. On the other 
hand, Callava declared to Brackenridge before the events of 
August 2 2d strained their relations that in the last months 
of Spanish possession there was in the province no ofiicial who 
could legally decide a lawsuit.' Jackson, ignoring this opinion, 
created a city government for Pensacola, county courts for the 
outlying settlements, and reserved, the highest judicial function 
for himself. 

^American State Papers, Miscellaneous, 11., 902-907. 


His judicial authority was assailed on stiU another side. Fro- 
mentin was commissioned United States district judge and ar- 
rived in Pensacola thinking he would exercise the usual powers 
of such a judge. To his surprise Jackson showed him instruc- 
tions from Washington by which only two United States statutes, 
those dealing with the revenue and the importation of slaves, 
were to be enforced in the province for the present: for other 
affairs the old law was to be administered. Fromentin's duties, 
as Jackson argued — and the judge agreed with him — were 
limited to these two subjects. But contact with Callava and 
Innerarity gave the judge other views as well as the courage 
to enforce them; and August 23d, he was bold enough to issue 
the writ of habeas corpus for the release of his friend.' 

Jackson's position as judge was undoubtedly irregular, but 
the situation was unusual. A governor in this transition period 
ought not to be hampered by the formalities of EngHsh law, 
nor could an American official be expected to be proficient in 
Spanish practices. Much must be left to his judgment, and 
tact was essential. Now Jackson's judgment was good for main 
points; but it vanished before passion, and he lacked tact. 
When his authority was crossed he was apt to forget forms 
of legality and even of propriety in order to carry his point. 
He was not a proper man to have the wide discretionary powers 
with which Monroe's commissions invested him. 

When Fromentin, on August 23d, received the citation to 
appear and show cause why he interfered with the governor's 
authority he repHed that he had rheumatism and could not 
comply. The next day he was better and called on his excel- 
lency. The interview was exciting. At its close the judge 
signed a memorandmn to the effect that the writ of habeas 
corpus was granted in an unusual manner. He admitted, but 
not in writing, that the writ was issued hastily and on insuffi- 

^American State Papers, Miscellaneous, II., 8oi, 822. 


cient information and promised not to interfere again with the 
governor's authority.' "The lecture I gave the judge when he 
came before me," wrote Jackson to the secretary of state, 
"will, I trust, for the future, cause him to obey the spirit of his 
commission, aid in the execution of the laws and administration 
of the government, instead of attempting to oppose me, under 
Spanish influence.'" 

A week later Fromentin learned that this signed memorandum 
was described by Jackson as an apology and opened a corre- 
spondence whose personalities did no credit to either of the two 
highest ofiicials in the province. Each side appealed to Adams, 
secretary of state, filling his ears with charges and counter- 
charges. After investigation he supported Jackson. Fromen- 
tin's letters show how completely he was unfit for the position 
of judge, and he was soon removed from the position. The 
controversy was brought before congress by inconsiderate 
opponents of Jackson; but wiser heads, unwilling to give him 
another opportunity to appear as a martyr, let the matter drop. ' 

August 27th, Callava, though still weak from illness and 
mortification, set out for Washington to lay his case before 
the Spanish minister. The protest which came duly from that 
ofiicial brought from Secretary Adams one of his usual clear and 
aggressive despatches. The occurrence at Pensacola, he said, 
was wholly due to the delay of the captain-general in Havana, 
to whom royal orders were delivered by the American agent, 
Colonel Forbes, on April 23d, directing the delivery of Florida 
with certain archives. There was no reason why this should 
not be done within a week: there were twenty boxes of docu- 
ments in Havana relating to Florida, most of which ought 
to have gone to Forbes, but not one was delivered; after vainly 

^American Stale Papers, Miscellaneous, II., 821. 

'Ibid, 801. 

•Bronaugh to Jackson, Febraaiy 8, 23, 1822; Adams to Fromentin, August 26, 1821, Jackson Mss. 


demanding them six weeks he was forced to depart without 
them but with the captain-general's promise to send them to 
Pensacola, a promise still unperformed. These documents 
were all from Florida originally, they related chiefly to land 
transfers, and were safeguards against fraudulent sales. Adams 
also reminded his correspondent that CaUava refused to show 
Jackson his credentials as commissioner of transfer, saying 
that he woxild surrender the province as governor and not by 
special authority. Thus by his own act he was debarred from 
claiming immunity as a commissioner and he became after the 
transfer a private citizen. And his willingness to be liberated 
on bail shows that he acquiesced in this status; for the plan was 
to release him on bail, he agreeing to appear for trial when re- 
quired and not to carry away the boxes of papers. The secretary 
discreetly said little about the trial of Callava, contenting 
himself with the approval of its results. He summed up the 
case in declaring: 

On a review of the whole transaction, I am instructed by 
the President of the United States to say, that he considers 
the documents in question as among those which, by the stipu- 
lations of the treaty, ought to have been delivered up, with 
the province, to the authorities of the United States; that they 
were on the 22nd of August, when in the possession of Domingo 
Sousa, within the jurisdiction of the United States, and subject 
to the control of the governor, acting in his judicial capacity 
and liable to be compulsively produced by his order; that the 
removal of them from the possession of Sousa, after the governor's 
orders to deliver them had been served upon him, could not 
withdraw thiem from the jurisdiction of Governor Jackson, and 
was a high and aggravated outrage upon his lawful authority; 
that the imprisonment of Col. Callava was a necessary, though 
by the President deeply regretted, consequence of his obstinate 
perseverance in refusing to deliver the papers, and of his 
unfounded claim of diplomatic immunities and irregular exercise 


even of the authorities of governor of Florida, after the authority 
of Spain in the province had been pubHcly and solemnly sur- 
rendered to the United States."' 

To this communication the Spanish minister returned a pep- 
pery reply, announcing that he would await instructions from his 
government. But there was no prospect of gain to either side 
from a prolonged discussion of such a trivial incident, and the 
affair of "Don Andrew Jackson" and "Colonel Don Callava" 
ceased to disturb the diplomats. The country soon forgot it. 
Nobody wanted war, and the popular disapproval of Spain's 
general conduct overshadowed whatever technical wrong she may 
have suffered: Jackson remained the people's hero. 

Thus closed the Jackson-Callava incident. Although the 
papers were demanded in a tactless manner, they were such as 
ought not to have been taken away. They were not properly 
military papers but were documents relative to a lawsuit still 
pending. In contending that Callava was merely a private 
individual Jackson was not so clearly right. The Spaniard had 
his status from his commission, and although a notification that 
no further business would be held with him might render him 
useless as a commissioner, it did not destroy that status. As 
long as he was allowed to remain in the province he was entitled 
to the ordinary immunity in person and property of a diplo- 
matic agent. 

Jackson's administrative achievements were less striking 
than his quarrels. The Florida treaty was proclaimed February 
22, 1821; and in the remaining ten days of the existing congress 
there was only time to create a temporary government for the 
new province. The President was authorized to continue the 
older system, with the exception of the revenue laws and the 

'Documents relating to the diplomatic side of the incident are in American Stale Papers, Foreisn, IV., 76$- 
808. Adams to de Anduaga, April is, 1822, is on pages 8o2-8«7. 


laws relating to the importation of slaves. The act was prac- 
tically like that of 1803, in which a transition government was 
established in newly acquired Louisiana. The powers of the 
first American governor in New Orleans were, therefore, very 
large; and Jackson expected to have equal authority in Pensa- 
cola. His commission, as construed by himself and allowed 
by the President, granted him most of the functions of govern- 
ment. He was local lawmaker, judge, and executive; and 
immediately after the transfer of the province he embodied 
what he thought the most needed reforms in a series of ordi- 
nances. The first provided a municipal government for Pen- 
sacola with Brackenridge for alcalde, or mayor; another made 
regulations for preserving the public health; another created 
counties; and still another established coimty courts. Alto- 
gether they were wisely planned.' The kind of government 
which Florida needed, he said, was one which was "simple and 
energetic." He advised that the region should not be Joined 
to Georgia and Alabama, but that it be made one territory with 
the hope of ultimate statehood. Whatever we may say of the 
system of government he established in West Florida, it was 
more definite and practicable than that which it displaced. 

Jackson has been pronounced "guilty of high crimes and 
misdemeanors'" for not enforcing the Spanish constitution, 
particularly where it required a popular election of the alcalde. 
His instructions were to continue the government and laws he 
foimd in existence, and although CaUava promulgated the 
constitution on May 26, 1820, and swore to obey it, it was not 
put into force. The system which he found on his arrival was 
arbitrary and chaotic, and he decided to reform it. Must his 
reforms follow the unenforced Spanish constitution? If Callava, 
in view of the coming transfer, would not enforce the instrument, 

^American State Papers, Miscellaneous, II., 904-90S. 

'Thomas, Military Government in Newly Acquired Territory of the United States, (Columbia University 
Studies, XX.J 75. 


should Jackson observe it, now that Spanish authority was 
destroyed? If Callava's government was temporary, so was 
Jackson's, since by law it was to give place to a permanent 
government by the end of the next session of congress. It was 
not in keeping with Spanish laws to put a liberal government 
on its feet in such a time of confusion. As to the municipality 
of Pensacola, which was needed to preserve order, existing 
conditions did not favor its election by the unorganized citi- 
zenry; and Jackson thought himself justified in appointing 
both mayor and council. The practical wisdom of his action 
is confirmed by the approval of the President of the United 
States. Nor was it clearly illegal. Callava, without criticism 
from his goverrmient, suspended the enforcement of the constitu- 
tion after its promulgation: Jackson, who stood precisely in 
his shoes, had, under the circumstances, equal if not greater 
reason to hold it in abeyance. At any rate, the situation was 
doubtful enough to warrant the exercise of discretion without 
cormnitting "a high crime and misdemeanor.'" Moreover, 
the incident illustrates his character as an administrator of laws. 
He was practical and bold and did not hesitate to override the 
letter in order to enforce the spirit of a law. The practice, 
of coiurse, may endanger the existence of the laws, but the people 
who made them trusted Jackson's honesty and conmion sense, 
and they never rebuked his assumption of responsibility. 

Long before Callava and Fromentin ceased to annoy him 
Jackson determined to resign his governorship. He was not 
suited to administrative routine and did not like it: he was 
disgusted because the Washington politicians distributed the 
Florida patronage to the exclusion of his own friends, his health 
was wretched, Mrs. Jackson did not like the country and longed 
for the familiar faces at her home, and his friends, who had other 

'Professor Thomas is hardly warranted in including Jackson's governorship in his generally excellent treat- 
ment of Military Government in Newly Acquired Territory of the United States. It was not military 
government: Jackson was not then an officer in the army, and his government was purely civil. 


plans for his future, realized that nothing was to be gained by 
keeping their candidate in Pensacola. He left Florida early 
in October on the plea of his wife's health, promising to return 
on short notice if his presence became necessary, and November 
4th, he arrived at the "Hermitage." Soon afterward he placed 
his resignation in the hands of the President, who accepted it, 
to take effect December ist.' 

The retirement of private life was welcome. For the past 
four years his health was extremely bad : chronic diarrhoea and 
indigestion several times brought to the verge of life a body 
which was never strong. Residence in the Southern wilderness 
both in 1818 and again in 182 1 aggravated the trouble, and many 
friends now felt that his chances of recovery were small. But 
rest and an iron will brought recuperation; the care of his farm 
and blooded horses gave added stimulus; and in a few months 
the loss of strength was repaired. A new residence gave addi- 
tional interest to life. It was the commodious brick structure 
which, though later burned and rebuilt, still survives as one 
of the historic homes of America. The hero of two wars, the 
idol of a large portion of the people, and prospective candidate 
for the presidency, he made it the centre of hospitality for a 
wide circle of notable men. A fine carriage drawn by four 
handsome gray horses, with servants in livery, added to his 
state. To the ordinary observer he appeared as a man of re- 
served and dignified manners: to his intimates he was cordial 
and rarely either yielded himself to anger or relapsed into the 
swaggering braggadocio of earlier days. He satisfied the Ten- 
nesseeans of his time, who pronounced him as great as the 
greatest who came to their prosperous young capital. 

One of his last oflScial acts in Florida was to expel the few 
Spanish officers whom for one reason or another he had allowed 
to remain in Pensacola after July 17th. They were active 

^American State Papers, Miscellaneous, II., gii; Bronaugh to Jackson, December 26, 1821, Jackson Mss. 


S)Tnpathizers with Callava and published a protest against 
his arrest. Their action was ill advised and could have no 
other effect than to arouse the antagonism of the native popu- 
lation. Jackson construed it as interference with his govern- 
ment, and he sent them away on four days' notice. They were 
forced to submit, but sent a parting shot against their antagonist 
in the shape of a protest which no Florida paper would print, 
but which found a better reception at the hands of The Intelli- 
gencer, of Washington, already leaning strongly toward Craw- 

Ever suspecting his opponents he soon came to think the 
Florida governorship was offered to him through their influence, 
in order that when off his guard he might discredit himself and 
thus be sacrificed to the interest of Crawford. In some curious 
notes which survive in his own hand he asserted as much and 
said this was why his recommendations for appointments in 
Florida were ignored, and why Fromentin was preferred to John 
Haywood, of Tennessee, for judge. Noting the opinion of the 
Richmond Enquirer, a Crawford journal, that Callava ought 
to have been confined in his own house but his subordinate 
might have been sent to the common jail, he answered by citing 
the Mosaic law, "upon which," he said, "our repubhcan con- 
stitution is founded; Deutronomy, chapter i, vers. 17 — 'Ye 
shaU not respect persons in judget. ; but ye shall hear the small 
as weU as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; 
for the judget. is Gods, etc' '" This sentiment is characteristic 
of Jackson, who in early life was irreligious but never skeptical. 
Moreover, the heroic in his own nature responded fuUy to the 
stern justice of the Hebrew lawgiver. 

The Florida governorship brought about a coohiess between 
Jackson and Monroe. When Fromentin submitted his case 

'These notes seem to have been intended as outline of a reply to his opponents in the proposed congressional 
investigation of 1822. They are in the Jackson Mss. and are without date. 


to the authorities in Washington he received a letter from Adams 
in which the secretary said that the President "is persuaded that 
your motives and intentions were entirely pure, though he 
deeply regrets the collision of authority and misunderstanding 
which has arisen between the governor of the Territory and 
you." Another feature of the letter was the secretary's assur- 
ance that Fromentin's authority was limited to two laws: "in 
the execution of those laws, in your judicial capacity, the gover- 
nor has been informed that you are considered amenable only 
to the government of the United States."' This was bad, in 
Jackson's eyes, but worse still was Monroe's annual message, 
December 3, 1821, because it was directed to congress, where 
Crawford and Clay had many supporters. It repeated the 
President's expression of confidence in Fromentin with provoking 
impartiality, and although it sought to balance this by warm 
praise of the patriotism and gallantry "of the officer holding 
the principal command," the sting was deep.' Jackson's friends 
in Washington soon knew how he felt. He attributed Monroe's 
lukewarmness to the influence of Crawford; and Dr. Bronaugh, 
then his most confidential representative in the capital, told 
Monroe's son-in-law as much one night at a ball. Next morning 
Bronaugh was summoned to the White House and received a 
long explanation which he was requested to transmit to the 
"Hermitage." Even this made little impression on the general, 
and three months later. May 30th, the President wrote a letter 
himself, filling it with assurances of friendship. It brought a 
mild reply from Jackson, who professed satisfaction and as- 
sured his correspondent that nothing could interrupt their 
friendship. But by this time he was fairly launched on his 
presidential canvass, and Monroe was too closely identified 
with the Virginia influence which was working for Crawford 

^American Stale Papers, Miscellaneous, II, 848. 
'Richardson, Messages and Papers of Ihe Presidents, II., iqj. 


to permit the restoration of the most cordial relations with the 
Teimesseean.' The political situation was shifting rapidly, 
and for Jackson destiny was closing one portal and opening 
another. Before the summer was gone he was definitely before 
the country as a candidate for the presidency. 

^ijackson to Gadsen, May 2; to Bronaugh, July 18; to Monroe, July 26: Bronaugh to Jackson, February 
23, 1822, Jackson Mss.; Monroe, Writitiss, VI., 291. 



The time at which Jackson became a presidential candidate 
was auspicious for forming new political parties. The chief 
problems of Jefferson's day, economy, peace, and the payment 
of the debt, passed away as soon as war ceased in Europe and 
America. Eighteen hundred and fifteen brought new issues, 
and the republicans were practical enough to accept them. The 
tariff, the bank, and internal improvements seemed necessary to 
the national development. They were matters of social im- 
provement at national expense and violated Jefiferson's theory of 
states' rights. But the party had new leaders, yoimg men who 
placed expediency above the doctrines of 1798; and they con- 
vinced congress that experience during the recent war proved 
the new policies necessary. As the years passed social develop- 
ment at national expense became less popular and the republican 
party began to divide into two groups, one supporting the new, 
and the other the older, view. The former group had its most 
aggressive leaders in Clay and Calhoun, two positive men who 
could not themselves agree to act together. With them went 
for a while Crawford, but his ardor cooled when he found on the 
other side the old Virginia influence, led by Monroe and coun- 
tenanced by Madison and Jefferson, who were still oracles for 
a great many republicans. Van Buren, his chief lieu- 
tenant in the North, had pronounced views in favor of 
the principles of 1798.' Adams was a nationalist, also, 

^Van Buren'fi unpublished Mss. Autobiography, Library of Congress, pauim. 



but gave himself to the duties of his office of secretary 
of state and in consequence his views were not prominently be- 
fore the public. 

General Jackson's attitude on these matters at this time is 
not clear. He was probably indifferent both on the bank ques- 
tion and in regard to internal improvements. He supported 
the tariff on the ground that domestic manufactures would make 
us independent of foreign markets in time of war, but he was not 
an extreme protectionist. A man of action, he had few theories, 
but these were of the school of 1798. In his early political 
career he followed Macon, Randolph and Monroe and opposed 
Jefferson and Madison. When the theories of that school 
were revived after 1820, he came back to them. He wrote 
Monroe a letter in congratulation of the veto of the Cumber- 
land Road bill' — the first striking evidence of the revival — and 
later he steadily held that internal improvements and the bank 
were unconstitutional. But he never changed his opinion 
on the tariff, either because of a sense of consistency, or because 
some of his strongest support in the North was protectionist, 
or because the low tariff movement was led by Calhoun and 
the nuUifiers, whom he disliked greatly. 

The campaign of 1824 was fairly opened in 1822, and the ter- 
ritorial support of the several candidates became a subject of 
general importance. Now the old Virginia-New York alliance 
was strong, because Virginia could speak for a group of Southern 
states, and New York had influence in the North. Kentucky 
was an obedient daughter of the Old Dominion; North Caro- 
lina, always weak in initiative, surrendered herself to the leader- 
ship of her northern sister and with her carried her own daughter, 
Tennessee. Georgia acted with these four states, and the five, 
during the time of the Virginia hegemony, had an average 
number of fifty-nine electoral votes. New York during the 

'Jackson to Monroe, July 26, 1822, Jackson Mss. 


same period had an average of twenty-three votes, to say nothing 
of those of New Jersey which she usually controlled. Together 
the alliance cast eighty-two votes, while for the period under 
consideration the average total number of votes was one hundred 
and ninety. The basis of the cooperation was the assignment of 
the presidency to Virginia and the vice-presidency to New 
York; and the arrangement was observed throughout the 
Virginia hegemony, except during the Clinton defection. The 
figures' here given will show how easy it was for this powerful 
group, bound together by self-interest, to dominate the fortunes 
of the republican party. 

In 1822 the ancient alliance was greatly shorn of its strength. 
The two principals did indeed hold together, giving their in- 
fluence for Crawford; but Kentucky had her own son in the 
race and was not to be counted on by the old combination. 
Tennessee was in the same situation. South Carolina, also, 
had a candidate; and North Carolina was more inclined to 
divide her votes between Jackson and Calhoun than to give 
them to Virginia's favorite, himself a Georgian. Crawford, 
therefore, could count on nothing more than his own state and 
Virginia, with whatever he could wring out of the legislature 
of New York, where, in spite of the influence of the republican 
organization, old federalism was rearing its head again. 

None of the other candidates seemed to have better chances 
than Crawford. Calhoun was known as a leading champion 
of internal improvements, and his feeling was broadly national. 
Pennsylvania hked him for both reasons, and the politicians 
there were united on him, probably through the influence of 
the capitalistic element of the party. New England also liked 
him next to Adams, its own son. Clay had his own state and 
most of the votes from the region north of the Ohio, and he had 

'These figures would be more significant if they were based on votes in caucus, but, unfortunately such votes 
aie not preserved by states. 


hopes in New York and the lower Southwest. Adams could 
count on New England, and that part of the republican party 
which was most allied to federalism was his instinctively. Such 
was the general situation when General Jackson, the last of the 
candidates to arrive on the field, made his appearance. 

The jealousy of other states of Virginia tended to unite 
them against Crawford, Virginia's candidate. The Jackson 
managers shrewdly utUized it in cutting North Carolina, in 
spite of the influence of Nathaniel Macon, out of the old alliance. 
The situation there as early as 1822 was the field against Craw- 
ford. A "People's Ticket" was planned on which were some 
Calhoun, some Jackson, and some Adams electors, the agree- 
ment being that they should all combine at last for the man most 
likely to beat the Georgian. When Calhoun ceased to aspire 
to first place, and Adams ceased to be seriously considered in the 
state, this became a regular Jackson ticket. Just before the 
election, Eaton, confident of victory, wrote the North Carohna 
managers as follows: 

What will Virginia do? What can she do? Her old allies 
Pennsylvania and North Carolina have thrown off their leading- 
strings, and arrogated to themselves the right of thinking for 
themselves. On them the dictatorial voice of Virginia is lost. 
Will Virginia separate now from those two states and thus 
jeopardize her future political consequence? Those leaders 
in the state, who have managed heretofore the people, as a 
village school master his little boys, will think weU of this 'ere 
the hour of trial arrives. Strange that she should act upon the 
principle of pressing, long as possible, one of her own citizens; 
and when the race is extinct then to look for a collateral^ residing 
in another state. None but a native Virginian is qualified and 
fit to rule the affairs of this country, as her politicians and 
leading men would maintain." 

'Eaton to Colonel WilUam Polk, September u, 1824. Mss. in possession of William H. Hoyt, of New Yorii 


Before 1822 many people had Jackson's possible candidacy in 
mind, and he must have been conscious of the fact; but his 
intimate correspondence fails to show any plan on his own part, 
or knowledge of the plans of others, which would promote his 
election. On the contrary, he was interested in the chances 
of the other candidates opposing Crawford and Clay and favor- 
ing either Adams or Calhoun. Adams's defense of the Seminole 
war and of the arrest of Callava aroused his admiration, and 
Calhoun's support in the congressional investigation of 1819 
brought the general and the secretary into cordial relations. 
The South Carolinian carefully cultivated this friendship, and it 
seems rather singular to hear this cool master of logic say to 
the passionate and usually biased Tennesseean; "Your country's 
fame and yours is one. I would rather have your good opinion 
with the approbation of my own mind than all the popularity 
which a pretended love of the people, and a course of popularity 
hunting can excite." ' The date of this utterance was March 7, 
1 82 1, a year before Jackson definitely decided to run for the 

Throughout this year he remained undecided, thinking more 
about the others than himself. December 6th he wrote in 
apparent frankness to a Calhoun supporter repudiating the 
notion that Crawford might carry Tennessee, and saying: 
"Nor need they expect any other than Mr. Adams to be sup- 
ported in this state unless some Southern candidate should 
arise — and I am certain no man in the South could concentrate 
the votes of the South and West, but Mr. Calhoun — and you 
are at liberty to say in my name both to my friends and enemies 
— that I will as far as my influence extends support Mr. Adams 
unless Mr. Calhoun should be brought forward, and that I have 
no doubt but Mr. Adams wiU outpole Mr. Crawford in the 

^Jackson Mss. See also in the same, Calhoun to Jackson, April i, 1821, and Jackson to C&lboun, May 
22, 1821. 


South and West. ... P. S. As to Wm. H. Crawford you 
know my opinion. I would support the Devil first."' This 
letter was shown to Calhoun and gave him much satisfaction. 
At this time Jackson's friends were probably still in doubt 
about bringing him forward." They watched carefuUy the 
situation, which changed continuously. December 3d, Eaton 
in Washington summed it as follows: 

While he who now fills the halls of the White House is slowly 
closing his eyes upon the rich trifles of the world, like an old 
father he stands surrounded by three full grown sons, each 
seeking the inheritance on his departure. John Q., from the 
favors bestowed by the old man in his life time has been deemed 
a favorite always: J. C, however, from being possessed of a 
sanguine temper, sets up also pretensions to the inheritance. 
William and the old gentleman, you know, it has been reported 
are constantly disagreeing in opinion and are hence not quite 
so friendly, as father and son should be; be this as it may, it 
seems pretty well settled that the Virginia estate if not already 
done, will be apportioned to the Latter.' 

The conviction that Adams was losing ground ought, by 
Jackson's declaration of December 6th, to have given the Ten- 
nessee influence to Calhoun; but other plans were made, and 
the information from Washington that Calhoun was gaining 
rapidly* made prompt action necessary. Accordingly, in Janu- 
ary, 1822, the first open steps were taken in behalf of the new 
candidate. The newspapers of Nashville began to urge him 
for President, and party leaders watched the journals of the 
country to see what impression was made. The suggestion was 
well received, especially in Pennsylvania, and the Jackson 
group decided to go further. One of them, Felix Grundy, on 

^Jackson to Gadsden, December 6, 1821, Jackson, Mss. 

Calhoun to Maxey, December 31, 1821, Marcou Mss., Library of Congress. 

BEaton to Jackson, December 3, 1822, Jackson Mss. 

*Dr. Bronaugh to Jackson, January 7, 1822, Jackson Mss. 


June 27th, wrote to Jackson to ask if any reason unknown to 
the public existed why Jackson should not be nominated for 
the office of President at the approaching session of the legis- 
lature.' The reply was characteristic: he would, he said, 
neither seek nor shun the presidency. This was all that his 
supporters desired. July 20th, the Tennessee legislature ad- 
journed for a few minutes and, the speaker and members keep- 
ing their seats, the following resolutions were passed: 

The members of the general assembly of the state of Ten- 
nessee, taking into view the great importance of the selection 
of a suitable person to fill the presidential chair at the approach- 
ing election for the chief magistracy of the United States, and 
seeing that those who achieved our independence, and laid the 
foundations of the American republic, have nearly passed away; 
and believing that moral worth, political requirements and 
decision of character, should unite in the individual who may 
be called to preside over the people of the United States, have 
turned their eyes to Andrew Jackson, late major-general in the 
armies of the United States. In him they behold the soldier, 
the statesman, and the honest man; he deliberates, he decides, 
and he acts; he is calm in deliberation, cautious in decision, 
efl&cient in action. Such a man we are willing to aid in electing 
to the highest office in the gift of a free people. The welfare 
of a country may be safely entrusted to the hands of him who 
has experienced every privation, and encountered every danger, 
to promote its safety, its honor, and its glory. Therefore, 

Resolved, As the opinion of the members composing the general 
assembly of the state of Tennessee, that the name of major- 
general Andrew Jackson be submitted to the consideration of 
the people of the United States, at the approaching election for 
the chief magistracy.' 

A week later he wrote to an intimate friend in apparent 
sincerity: "I have no desire, nor do I expect ever to be called 

»Grundy to Jackson, June 27, 1822, Jackson to Grundy, Bronaugb, July 18, 1822, Jackson Mss. 
Wiles, Register, XXII., 402. 


to fill the Presidential chair, but should this be the case, contrary 
to my wishes or expectations, I am determined it shall be with- 
out any exertion on my part.'" 

The address of the Tennessee legislature contained both 
truth and error. Jackson was undoubtedly honest, patriotic, 
efficient, and ready to make great sacrifices for the interest of 
country; but it was sheer adulation to say that he was "calm 
in deliberation, cautious in decision." His nomination violated 
all precedents and his opponents pronounced it ridiculous. Web- 
ster thought the nominee entirely unfit and told of an interview 
with Jefferson in 1824, in which the latter is alleged to have said : 

I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jack- 
son President. He is one of the most unfit men I know of 
for such a place. He has very Uttle respect for law or con- 
stitutions, and is, in fact, an able mihtary chief. His passions 
are terrible. When I was president of the senate, he was a 
senator, and he could never speak on account of the rashness 
of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as 
often choke with rage. His passions are, no doubt, cooler 
now; he has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dan- 
gerous man.' 

Webster's report has been widely quoted; but it is hardly 
to be reconciled with the following expression in a letter from 
Jefferson to Jackson, December 18, 1823: 

" I recall with pleasure the remembrance of our joint labors 
while in senate together in tunes of great trial and of hard bat- 
tling. Battles indeed of words, not of blood, as those you have 
since fought so much for your own glory and that of your coun- 
try. With the assurance that my attamts. [attachments] 
continue undiminished, accept that of my great respect and 

•Jackson to Bronaugh, August i, 1822, Jackson Mss. 
*Webster, Private Correspondence, I., 371. 
•See Jefferson Mss. Library of Congress. 


Jackson's strength lay with the people, that of most of his 
opponents lay with the members of congress and other politi- 
cians, whose influence was accustomed to carry the elections. 
Most of these leaders were committed to one of the other can- 
didates when Jackson was nominated. They did not think him 
qualified for the presidency, they were not drawn by his master- 
ful personality, and they did not think he would win. His 
managers felt that newspapers and an organization of their 
own were necessary in order to make active his strength with 
the people. They succeeded in creating such an organization 
and it finally attracted the majority of the voters out of the camp 
of the older leaders into that of the new. The process was crude 
for two reasons: (i) the people were reached by illiberal argu- 
ments; and (2) the new poUticians were apt to be uncouth, some 
of them being repudiated leaders in the older groups, others 
new men of little experience, others mere adventurers, and still 
others men of great natural ability who were destined to achieve 
eminence. As Jackson's fortunes improved many of the older 
politicians joined him. Leadership now became more con- 
ventional and appeals to voters less passionate; but it was a 
long time before Jacksonian democracy lost its distinctively 
popular quality. 

The first field in which Jackson's managers tried their strength 
was Louisiana, where, in the spring of 1823, they sought to get 
the legislature to nominate their candidate. The attempt 
was not successful. Clay's friends were numerous, the enemies 
whom Jackson made by his quarrels at New Orleans were united 
against him, and the French speaking members of the legis- 
lature were drawn the same way, so that thirty-four of the 
sixty members were induced to sign resolutions in behalf of 
the Kentucky candidate. The attempt to make Jackson 
President had not at that time the approval of some of his 
best friends in the state: Livingston, Duncan, and Grymes, 


all his defenders in ordinary matters, refused to support the 
movement in the legislature. But Clay could not maintain 
the advantage he had gained: in the election in the following 
year, Louisiana gave two of her electoral votes to Adams, three 
to Jackson, and none to Clay.' 

The next state to attract attention was Pennsylvania, where 
Thomas J. Rogers, a member of congress and a manufacturer, 
and S. D. Ingham, a popular lawyer, organized the politicians 
for Calhoun as early as 182 1.' But the Pennsylvania farmers 
felt little interest in him, particularly those who lived in the 
western half of the state, where the Scotch-Irish predominated. 
Jackson was the son of a Scotch-Irish immigrant, and his most 
prominent quahties were characteristic of that stock. As 
soon, therefore, as he was urged for the presidency, the Calhoun 
leaders of this region began to have trouble. Henry Baldwin, 
of Pittsburg, was chief of them and had much difficulty in de- 
ciding which way he should go. He first leaned to Jackson 
tni laughed out of it by the supporters of Crawford and then 
turned away just as the Jackson wave overwhelmed the 
community. A letter from Edward PatcheU, an ignorant 
preacher of the neighborhood, tells how the crisis came to 

Patchell was the leader of a group of Jackson men from an 
earlier stage of the contest and became so prominent in it that 
he was nicknamed "Old Hickory." In 1824, he was elected 
brigadier-general of militia because of his sobriquet, as he 
said. He had long had political ambitions, but being unedu- 
cated he "stood in the rear ranks," as he himself said, "and 
never ventured in the front until Andrew Jackson, the son of 
my dear countryman, was announced a candidate for the first 
office in the people's gift." He established The Alleghany 

•Isaac L. Baker to Jackson, Febraary 26, May 3, 1823: David C. Ker to Jackson, November 23,'i824; 
Tackson Mss. 
>Hunt, Calhoun, 48. 


Democrat with one of his "meer boys" for editor and asserted, 
with apparent sincerity, that he did not desire oflSce. His 
account of his conduct in regard to the nomination, spite of 
some errors of facts, illustrates well the Western upheaval. 
He continues: 

Altho I well knew that my talents were unadequate to the 
task, yet I depended not only in my personal courage alone, 
but I trusted in my God, and your God, whome hath raised 
you up for to be a Saviour and a deHverour for his people. I 
considered you were justly entitled to the nation's gratitude, 
and altho I well knew that I was not a poletetion, yet neverthe- 
less ware I to try I could do something. And if Henery Bald- 
win had, as he promised assisted me, I would not have had the 
half of the trouble or difficulty in turning the people on the 
straight course that I had. Mr. Baldwin wrote the advertise- 
ment for the call of the first meeting which was held in the 
Courthouse in favour of your Election, and sent it to me to get 
it pubHshed. The meeting was very numerous, much larger 
than ever had been known here. After the chairman and the 
secretaries ware appointed Mr. Baldwin states the object of 
the meeting, and your name ware placed at the foot of the list. 
Wm. H. Crawford got one vote, H. Clay five, J. Q. Adams 
two, J. C. Calhoun four, and Gen. Andrew Jackson upward 
of looo. A resolution was then offered that "Henry Baldwin 
be appointed to write an address" to the democratic republicans 
throughout the United States. But the very next day, as I 
have imderstood, Mr. Baldwin met with Judge Riddle, your 
old boot-maker, and he hooted him and fully persuaded him 
that Mr. Wm. H. Crawford would be taken up in caucus, and 
would be elected President beyond any manner of doubt. From 
that day until this, Mr. Baldwin was never known to write 
the scrape of a pen either for or against you — But I beUeve 
has ever since been praying good God, good Devil not knowing 
whose hands he might fall into. I was then drove to the alter- 
native of inlisting a young lawyer under my banner, meer boys, 
as Judge Riddle used to call them. But with the assistance of 
the boys I have accomplished wonders. I have reduced the 


Lousie party here from ten thousand to something less than 
fifty, and they are chiefly the antient and notorious wire workers, 
they are the office holders and office hunters, and all they can 
do now is grin and shew their teeth. . . . Had I been in pos- 
session of the learning, talents and political knowledge of Henry 
Baldwain, I have the vanity to think that long ere now, I would 
have reduced the people into a sense of their duty. But Jack- 
son, I must repeat it, I have done no more than my duty, and 
I even forbid you to return me thanks: And should we fail 
this Election, I will pray my God to spare life until I see Andrew 
Jackson President of the United States, and then let me close 
my eyes in peace.' 

PatcheU spoke for Pittsburg; a meeting at Carlisle, in the 
central part of the state, showed the same temper. It was called 
by Calhoun supporters to get him endorsed for the presidency. 
When resolutions to that effect were about to be voted on, 
it was moved to substitute Jackson's name for Calhoun's and 
the motion was carried with enthusiasm. The poHticians 
could not misread such signs as these. George M. Dallas, at 
first for the South Carolinian, showed them what must be 
done to preserve their leadership when he threw a Philadelphia 
meeting into the Jackson camp, remarking as he did so that he 
acted merely in obedience to the will of the people. Calhoun's 
hope in Pennsylvania was, indeed, gone; and March 4, 1824, 
a state convention at Harrisburg declared for Jackson by what 
was practically a unanimous majority. The same meeting 
nominated Calhoun for vice-president, thus announcing to 
the world a compromise which had been quietly arranged be- 
tween the supporters of the Tennesseean and South Carolinian.' 

The sudden swing of the state from his column, as shown in 
the Philadelphia meeting and the Harrisburg convention of 
February, 1824, brought dismay to Calhoun. He had built 

"Edward PatcheU to Jackson, August 7, 1824, Jackson Mss. Henry Baldwin was for Jackson in a timorous 
way in the preceding year. See his letter to Jackson, January 2, 1823, Jackson Mss. 
■Parton, Jackson, III., a8. 


his hopes on the pohticians: Jackson's rested with the people. 
To one of his confidential heutenants Calhoun unburdened 
himself as follows: 

The movement at Philadelphia was as unexpected to me 
as it could have been to any of my friends. It has produced 
the deepest excitement. Mr. Dallas had informed me about 
a week before that he thought the cause was lost in Pena. and 
that we should have to yield there, at the Harrisburg conven- 
tion. Tho' prepared for defeat [at] Harrisburg, no movement 
in advance was anticipated. What took place was imprece- 
dented and under a sudden impulse received from the caucus 
nomination here, and the loss of Berks which decided the con- 
test in favor of Genl. Jackson in Pena. I have no doubt the 
.motives were pure; and tho' iU timed as it regards Dallas and 
our cause, yet not unfavorable to the great point of defeating 
the radicals. Our friends have come to the conclusion that we 
ought to hold to our position, and wait events. It is thought 
to be the best in every point of view, whether it regards the 
country, or ourselves. Nor will there be much difficulty. 
South Carolina and Jersey can easily be restored as they are. 
In North Carolina, the friends of Jackson will not start another 
ticket, with the understanding that the one formed will support 
him, should I have no prospects in Pena. a ticket wiU be formed 
favourable to me as a second choice, and the same course will 
be pursued in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, 
and Tennessee. In Maryland it is highly desirable that my 
friends should run in as many districts as possible, taking Jack- 
son if necessary as a second choice, or taking position simply 
against the caucus with the determination to support the 

Jackson's friends indicate a disposition to add my name 
to his ticket in Pena. as V. P. We have determined in relation 
to it to leave events to take their own course, that is to leave the 
determination to his friends. Standing as I do before 
the American people, I can look to no other position, 
than that which I occupy. Had Pena. decided favour- 
ably the prospect would have been most fair. Taking the 


U. S. together I never had a fairer prospect than on the day 
we lost the state.' 

Calhoun's interests, it was thought, would be advanced by 
the combination now made. He was still a young man and 
could afford to wait for honors. He and Jackson were united 
by their opposition to Crawford, then considered the most 
formidable candidate for the common goal. Moreover, it was 
not difi&cult to effect the cooperation. Jackson and Calhoun 
were friends before the former was nominated by Tennessee 
in 1822, and although their friendship cooled after that event 
it did not disappear entirely. It was possible for the latter to 
say in 1823 : "I find few with whom I accord so fully in relation 
to political affairs as yourself. I have a thorough conviction 
that the noble maxim of yours, to do right and fear not is the 
basis, not only of Republicanism, according to its true accept- 
ance, but of all pohtical virtue; and that he who acts on it, 
must in the end prevail. The political quibblers will fail. 
The cause of the Georgian is, if I mistake not, rapidly declining. 
It has no foundation in truth, and can only be propped by false 
pretenses. Should he fail in New York, as I think he must, 
he will not have the least prospect of success.'" That the 
towering mind of Calhoun could speak such platitudes with 
apparent unction indicates that he was exceedingly anxious 
to preserve the good wiU of Jackson. 

A similar combination was attempted between Clay and 
Crawford, but without success. Rumors of it reached Jackson 
in the summer of 1823, and Calhoun said that he believed such 
a purpose existed among the friends of those candidates. "I 
hope," he said, "we shall never present the example of coalition, 
intrigue or management advancing any citizen to the highest 

'Calhoun to V. Maxey, Febraary 27, 1824, Marcm Papers, Library of Congress. 

'Calhoun to Jackson, March 30, 1823, Jackson Mss. See also Gadsden to Jackson, July 30, 1823, in the same 


honor of the country. The influence of such an example would 
be pernicious in the extreme. If the people can be cheated, 
they will not be served. Virtuous servants would be discouraged 
and the unprincipled only would thrive.'" Thus spoke the 
bargaining Calhoun in condemnation of the bargain of Clay. 

Crawford's lieutenants seem to have been responsible for 
the approaches to the supporters of Clay, and Van Buren was 
active in the business. He dwelt upon the shattered state of 
Crawford's health, which, he said, would surely cause Clay, 
in 1828, to come into first place in the combination. Craw- 
ford's Virginia friends were pleased at the prospects of securing 
Clay's support, but thought the initiative in aimouncing him 
should not come from their state, since Crawford, also, was a 
son of the Old Dominion. Clay discouraged the movement 
and it was not consummated. He thus lost an opportum'ty 
to acquire most of the Crawford following'. It was especially 
significant that he allowed Van Buren and the chief group of 
New York republicans to go to Jackson after fvdfiUing its duty 
to the Georgian. But this did not operate in the election of 
1824. Crawford was still in the field; and the union of Jackson 
and Calhoun brought into cooperation Tennessee, Pennsyl- 
vania, and South Carolina, with fifty votes, and gave them a 
hope of carrying North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, 
with twenty-three votes. 

Early in 1824, efforts were made to combine the other candi- 
dates against Crawford, whom all feared and disliked. R. M. 
Johnson, of Kentucky, approached Adams and asked if he would 
cooperate to defeat the Georgian. "I told him," says Adams, 
"that I would cordially contribute to this object to the utmost 
of my power; that to this end I had authorized my friends 

'Calhoun to Jackson, July 31, 1823, Jackson Mss. 

'Van Buren to B. Ruggles, Aug. 26; P. N. Nicholas to Van Buren, October ig and 31; J. A. Hamilton to 
Ibid, December 12; Van Buren to Crawford, November|i2, to Butler, December 27, 1834: also Van Buren 
Aulohiograthy, 113: all in Van Buren Mss. 


in the pursuit of it, if they should think it expedient, to set me 
altogether aside, and to concur in any arrangement necessary 
for the union of the republican party and the public interests." 
Two days later a plan was submitted to him by which he was to 
have the presidency, Jackson the vice-presidency, Clay the 
state department, and Calhoun the treasury. To this propo- 
sition, which was said to have originated with Calhoun, Adams 
made no reply. Two weeks later the republican caucus was 
held, and Crawford developed so little strength in it that all 
thought of a combination against him was dropped.' Echoes 
of these plans reached Jackson, but he put them aside. He 
would make no bargain, he said: let his friends do what was 
best for the country, and he would be satisfied. 

The incident has further interest because it shows the rela- 
tive importance in which the four candidates were regarded 
by one who had good ground for an intelligent opinion. Jack- 
son now stood in second rank. Even Adams conceded this. 
He declared that Jackson was fit for the vice-presidency, that 
the place suited Jackson, and that it would be well to have a 
President from the East and a vice-president from the West. 
"His name and character," he added complacently, "would 
serve to restore the forgotten dignity of the place, and it would 
afford an easy and dignified retirement to his old age."' 

Before these attempted combinations ceased Tennessee itself 
was to be fought for. One of the enemies whom Jackson's 
temper made was Col. John WiUiams, of Knoxville, recently 
commanding the loth regiment, in which Thomas H. Benton 
was lieutenant-colonel. In 1815 Williams became United 
States senator and in 1823 was up for reelection. He was 
openly against Jackson, supporting in 1819 the resolutions to 

'Adams, Memoirs, VI., 241; Talmadge to Jackson, March 6; Jackson to Talmadge, March 12, 1824; Jackson 
>Adams, Memoirs, VI., 253, 333. 


censure the general for the invasion of Florida, and, it was 
alleged, ridiculing the nomination by the Tennessee legislature 
and saying it would not be seriously supported by the people 
of the state. Mutual friends tried to make peace between the 
two, but Jackson steadily refused to receive any advances 
unless Williams acknowledged his error and apologized, and 
this the senator would not do.' His reelection in 1823, it was 
felt by Jackson's supporters, would be a blow to their interests; 
and they sought to bring out a man who could defeat him. 
They first thought of John Rhea, but on that basis they lacked 
a majority by several votes. They then decided that only 
Jackson could defeat Williams. He was very unwilling to have 
the ofl&ce and H. L. White, one of his wisest supporters, feared 
its effects, lest it should be considered an electioneering scheme; 
but the necessity was great and the election was carried by a 
safe majority. Of the twenty-five members of the legislature 
who stood by WilUams and voted against the people's favorite 
only three were reelected at the next election.' 

This danger past, the Jackson managers had time to consider 
the party caucus, then a most serious obstacle. It was in the 
control of Virginians, and in the days before nominating con- 
ventions it was very influential with the party. The Virginians 
were likely to carry it for Crawford, and every other candidate 
was, therefore, against it. They all pronounced it a futile means 
of suggesting a presidential candidate; but Jackson, the popu- 
lar favorite, was peculiarly interested in breaking down this 
centre of the politician's power.' His supporters in the Ten- 
nessee legislature in 1823 passed resolutions denouncing the 
caucus, instructing the state's congressmen to vote against it, 
and calling on other legislatures to take similar action. Many 

*McNairy to Jackson, September 3; Jackson to McNairy, September 6, 1823. See also, Jackson to Gen. 
John Brown, October 8, 1819; Jackson Mss. 
Uackson to Polk, October 25, 1835. 
'Parton, Jackson, III., 23. 


states acquiesced, and so strong was the sentiment against the 
caucus that in Virginia itself a resolution to instruct the Vir- 
ginia delegation to support it was lost by one vote. The agi- 
tation succeeded in its purpose: it made the caucus so unpopular 
that but sixty-eight out of a total of two hundred and sixty- 
one congressmen would attend it, when it met on February 14, 
1824, and of these sixty-four voted for Crawford, who was 
declared the republican nominee.' 

Another source to which the Jackson managers looked for 
votes was the remnant of federalists in the Southern and Middle 
states. These persons were too much against the regular 
republicans to accept Crawford, and old animosities ranged 
them against Adams. Calhoun had been a favorite with them, 
and his alliance with Jackson made it seem that they could 
be won for the Tennesseean. To influence their opinions the 
managers brought out an old correspondence which was supposed 
to be agreeable to them. The story, which Parton under the 
influence of the garrulous Major Lewis seems to have distorted, 
is as follows: 

October 23, 1816, Jackson wrote to Monroe, about to be 
elected President, recommending the appointment of Col. 
W. H. Drayton, of South Carolina, a war federahst, as secretary 
of war, basing his advice on mihtary grounds." Before a reply 
could be made he wrote again, November 12th, urging Drayton 
on political grounds. "Pardon me," he said, "for the following 
remark for the next presidential term. Everything depends 
upon the selection of your ministry, both as to yourself and 
country. In every situation party, and party feeling ought to 
be laid out of view (for now is the time to put them down) 
by selecting those the most honest, possessing capacity, virtue, 
and firmness; by this course you'll steer the national ship to 

'McMaster, Vniud States, V., 60-64. 

!The letter is in draft in Jackson's hand, Jackson Mas. See also Parton, Jackson, II., 357, where the text has 
been improved. 


honor and preferment, and yourself to the united plaudits of 
a happy country. Consult no party or party feelings in your 
choice, pursue that unerring Judgment you possess, that for so 
many years has added so much to the benefit of our common 

The suggestion suited Monroe's theories. As an old pro- 
tester against the regular republicans of Jefferson's time, he 
was disposed to be liberal in his appointments, and for the 
same reason he had opposition from the regulars. This obstacle 
prevented the nomination of Drayton; but Monroe was not 
displeased and became continually more liberal. In his second 
administration he openly announced an "amalgamation policy" 
in appointments. His acceptance of Jackson's theory brought 
a third letter from the latter, in which he said, in expressing his 
horror of the Pickering federalists: "Had I commanded the 
military department where the Hartford Convention met, if 
it had been the last act of my life, I should have hung up the 
three principal leaders of the party." 

These letters were written with Jackson's usual directness, 
but Major Lewis revised and embellished them before they 
were sent to the President-elect. It is to Lewis that we owe 
the oft-repeated phrase, "the monster called party spirit." 
Later he told Parton that he considered them important when 
they were written, and kept them in mind. From this informa- 
tion the biographer constructed a theory that they were written 
with an eye to the future. The theory is unsupported; for 
Jackson himself said they were not written for publication,' 
and the reference to the Hartford Convention would hardly 
have appeared if such an event had been foreseen. So far as 
their author was concerned, they were probably only a candid 

^Jackson to Monroe, October 23, November 12, 1816, and January 6, 1817; Jackson Mss, See, also, Parton 
Jackson, II., 3S7-368. 

^Jackson to Lewis, December 28, 1826, Jackson Mss. See also Bulletin New York Public Library IV. 


expression of his opinion in regard to the attitude the government 
ought to take toward the moderate federalists. 

The first use of these letters in the campaign of 1824 was 
made privately. Lewis in 1822 read copies of them to Col. 
WiUiam Polk, of Raleigh, the leading federaHst in North Caro- 
lina. The latter, says Lewis, was convinced by them and 
thenceforth worked successfxiUy for the Tennesseean in North 
Carolina.' So far as we may judge from the facts which appear 
on the surface, the Jackson managers were satisfied to use the 
correspondence in this discreet manner. To publish it was 
hkely to displease both the strict party republicans and the 
extreme federaHsts of New England. It was not, therefore, 
through their efforts or consent that it was at last given to the 
pubUc. The story of the publication shows how large a part 
intrigue played in the political history of the day. 

In his second term Monroe, following his "amalgamation 
poHcy," nominated Irish, a federalist, as a marshal in Penn- 
sylvania. The two senators from that state were republicans 
and protested to Monroe against the appointment. He, in 
justifying himself, read them Jackson's letters of 1816-1817 
and within a short time repeated the argument with other 
republicans. But the Pennsylvanians were not convinced 
and induced the senate to reject Irish by a vote of twenty-six 
to fourteen, the majority being all republicans. 

From this'affair the pubhc first knew of the correspondence. 
Crawford's supporters dwelt on the information, pleased to have 
an argmnent to show that Jackson was not a good republican. 
For a time the attack produced consternation in western Penn- 
sylvania, where repubhcanism was a tradition with the Scotch- 
Irish. The Jackson newspapers, however, nervously denied the 
existence of the correspondence, and George Kremer, whose 
fame rests chiefly on his participation in a more noted squabble, 

'Parton, Jackson, III., 15. 


wrote to ask Jackson if the alleged letters were really written. 
Now the published reports had distorted the contents of the 
correspondence, and the general was literally correct when he 
said in reply that he did not write what was attributed to him. 
Kremer published this reply and said that he had talked, also, 
with Monroe, who confirmed Jackson's denial. This left the 
Pennsylvania senators in a bad position. One of them was a 
supporter of Jackson and kept quiet; but the other, Walter 
Lowrie, a Crawford man, resented the imputation against his 
integrity and called on the President to publish the correspond- 
ence which was read to him and his colleague. Monroe's 
relations with Jackson were already strained on account of 
the Fromentin affair and he refused to take a step which would 
make them worse. Lowrie was thus left in an awkward posi- 
tion, but reUef was at hand. One morning he received an 
anonymous letter postmarked "Richmond," which contained 
a copy of the President's reply to Jackson's second letter. Part 
of it was in the handwriting of Jackson, who declared that it 
was stolen from his papers, and part in that of Hay, Monroe's 
son-in-law. By threatening to publish the letter which for- 
tune sent him, Lowrie was able to force action by his opponents. 
After some squirming on their part, Eaton, acting for his leader, 
published the whole correspondence in May, 1824. The effect 
was considerable, though not as decisive as was anticipated. 
Some repubhcans were alienated and many federahsts were 
won. But these results were not permanent. The disappear- 
ance of Crawford after 1825 gave most of his followers to Jack- 
son; and issues were such in 1828 that most of the federalist 
accessions of 1824 were lost. Some of the Crawford repubhcans 
in process of transition found the Monroe correspondence a 
stumbling-block; but Van Buren, their principal leader, reas- 
sured them saying that Jackson was once a good repubUcan 
and "we must trust to good fortune, and to the effects of favora- 


ble associations for the removal of the rust they [his principles] 
have contracted in his case, by a protracted non-user, and the 
prejudicial effects in that regard of his miKtar>' life."' 

Jackson's allusion to the Hartford Convention was bitterly 
resented in New England, but he did not retract. In a private 
letter he justified himself by saying: "It is true that I wrote 
hastily these letters to Mr. Monroe to which you refer, and 
that I never calciolated that they would be published," but 
they had not done as much harm as his enemies expected. 
As to the Hartford Convention, his utterances were, he declared, 
well foimded. The papers charged the leaders with treason and 
a nuKtary conmiander has power to deal with treason; where- 
fore, "if there is no mistake about the powers referred to, and 
if there had been none in the public prints, when they charged 
the Hartford Convention with carr)dng on illicit correspondence 
with the enemy by its agents, with a combination to disobey 
the calls of the President, for the just quotas of militia, thereby 
paralyzing the arm of government, and aiding and assisting 
the enemy by withdrawing themselves illegally from the ranks 
of their coimtry, I ask if the conduct as charged against the 
members of the Hartford Convention and its correspondence 
with the British agents (if true) did not bring them within the 
purview and meaning of the fifty-sixth and fifty-seventh articles 
of war — if not then they are a dead letter and ought to be 
expimged ... I have no hesitation in saying that if I had 
been placed in command in that country by the orders of the 
President, I should have at once tried the strength of the powers 
of the government in a state of war, whether it was competent 
to wield its physical force in defence of our country by pimish- 
ing aU concerned in combinations to aid the enemy and para- 
lyze our own efforts. In this case if my judgment had been 

'Van Buren, Autobiography, III., 20-27, Van Buren Mss. Bulletin New York Public Library, 1900, 194; 
Lowrie to Monroe, March is, 1824; Jackson to Dondson, Januaiy 16, 18 and 21, 1824, to Monroe, April 9, 
Monroe to Jackson, April 10, 1824, Jackson Mss. See aUo Jefierson, Wrllinss (Ford edition), X., 304. 


condemned, all good men would have at least commended the 
motive." ' 

Jackson took his seat in the senate December 5, 1823. 
He was made chairman of the committee on military affairs 
and member of the committee on foreign relations. He resigned 
his seat two years later after the legislature nominated hkn for 
the second time to the presidency. His duties were performed 
conscientiously, and for a new member who had no talent for 
speaking he was fairly prominent. He presented the business 
which pertained to his committee with brief but effective speeches; 
and on the whole his career was satisfactory to those who made 
him their representative.' 

Internal improvements and the tariff were then prominent 
political questions, and each was before the senate in the first 
session he attended. Both measures were popular with his 
friends in the North, particularly in Pennsylvania, and impopu- 
lar with most of his Southern supporters. His managers feared 
that his outspoken nature would be unequal to so deHcate a 
situation, but for once he was discreet. He voted for aU the 
road biUs which came up except one — and in that case did not 
vote at all — but he justified himself on the ground of military 
necessity. On Calhoun's project for a general survey of roads 
and canals he voted steadily with the majority which, rejecting 
all amendments, passed the bill in the form in which it came 
from the house.' 

In regard to the tariff of 1824 he displayed the same kind 
of courage and decision. The bill came from the house, stamped 
with the insignia of protection. Amendment after amendment 
was introduced to lower the schedules, most of them without 
success. Of the attempts to reduce the duties by amendment 
in the committee of the whole, Jackson's vote was for the pro- 

^Jackson to Lewis, December 28, 1826. Jackson Mss. 
^Annals of i8th Congress, ist session, Volume I., passim, 
'Ibid, 137, 296, 253-256, 570. 


tectionists twenty-two times, for lower rates four times, for 
compromise once, and in three cases it is not possible to deter- 
mine how it should be classified.' His one vote for the free 
list had reference to frying pans. In far the majority of cases he 
voted with Lowrie and Findlay, senators from the staunch 
protectionist state of Pennsylvania. 

At this time it was generally reported that Jackson favored 
the "protecting duty poHcy"; and Dr. L. H. Colman, a 
Virginia supporter who professed opposite views, wrote to ask 
his tariff opinions. The reply, which became famous, was 
as follows:' 

Sir: I have had the honor this day to receive your letter 
of the 2ist instant, and with candor shall reply to it. My 
name has been brought before the nation by the people them- 
selves without any agency of mine: for I wish it not to be for- 
gotten that I have never sohcited office, nor when called upon 
by the constituted authorities have ever declined — where I 
conceived my services would be beneficial to my country. As 
my name has been brought before the nation for the first office 
in the gift of the people, it is incumbent on me, when asked, 
frankly to declare my opinion upon any political or national 
question pending before and about which the country feels an 

You ask me my opinion on the Tariff. I answer, that I 
am in favor of a judicious examination and revision of it; and 
so far as the Tarifif before us embraces the design of fostering, 
protecting, and preserving within ourselves the means of na- 
tional defense and independence, particularly in a state of 
war, I would advocate it and support it. The experience of 
the late war ought to teach us a lesson; and one never to be 
forgotten. If our liberty and republican form of government, 
procured for us by our Revolutionary fathers, are worth the 
blood and treasure at which they were obtained, it surely is 

'Annals of i8th Congress, ist session, Volume, I., 583-738, passim. 
'Jackson to Dr. Colman, April 26, 1824, Parton, Jackson, III., 35. 


our duty to protect and defend them. Can there be an Ameri- 
can patriot, who saw the privations, dangers, and difficulties 
experienced for the want of a proper means of defense during 
the last war, who would be willing again to hazard the safety 
of our country if embroiled; or rest it for defense on the pre- 
carious means of national resources to be derived from commerce, 
in a state of war with a maritime power which might destroy 
that commerce to prevent our obtaining the means of defense, 
and thereby subdue us? I hope there is not; and if there is, 
I am sure he does not deserve to enjoy the blessings of freedom. 

Heaven smiled upon, and gave us liberty and independence. 
That same Providence has blessed us with the means of national 
independence and national defense. If we omit or refuse to 
use the gifts which He has extended to us, we deserve not the con- 
tinuation of His blessings. He has filled our mountains and our 
plains with minerals — with lead, iron, and copper, and given 
us a climate and a soil for the growing of hemp and wool. These 
being the grand materials of our national defense, they ought 
to have extended to them adequate and fair protection, that our 
own manufactories and laborers may be placed on a fair compe- 
tition with those of Europe; and that we may have within our own 
country a supply of those leading and important articles so 
essential to war. Beyond this, I look at the Tariff with an eye 
to the proper distribution of labor and revenue; and with a 
view to discharge our national debt. I am one of those who do 
not believe that a national debt is a national blessing, but rather 
a curse to a republic ; inasmuch as it is calculated to raise around 
the administration a moneyed aristocracy dangerous to the 
liberties of the country. 

This Tariff — I mean a judicious one — possesses more 
fanciful than real dangers. I will ask what is the real situation 
of the agriculturalist? Where has the American farmer a 
market for his surplus products? Except for cotton he has neither 
a foreign nor a home market. Does not this clearly prove, 
when there is no market either at home or abroad, that there 
is too much labor employed in agriculture? and that the channels 
of labor should be multiplied? Common sense points out at 
once the remedy. Draw from agriculture the superabundant 


labor, employ it in mechanism and manufactures, thereby 
creating a home market for your breadstufifs, and distributing 
labor to a most profitable account, and benefits to the country 
will result. Take from agriculture in the United States six 
hundred thousand men, women, and children, and you at once 
give a home market for more breadstuffs than all Europe now 
furnishes us. In short, sir, we have been too long subject to 
the policy of the British merchants. It is time we should be- 
come a little more Americanized, and instead of feeding the 
paupers and laborers of Europe, feed our own, or else in a short 
time, by continuing our present policy, we shall all be paupers 

It is, therefore, my opinion that a careful Tariff is much 
wanted to pay our national debt, and afford us a means of that 
defense within ourselves on which the safety and Uberty of 
our country depend; and last, though not least, to our labor, 
which must prove i3eneficial to the happiness, independence, 
and wealth of the community. 

This is a short outline of my opinions, generally, on the 
subject of your inquiry, and believing them correct and calcu- 
lated to further the prosperity and happiness of my country, 
I declare to you I would not barter them for any office or situa- 
tion of temporal character that could be given me. I have 
presented you my opinions freely, because I am without con- 
cealment, and should indeed despise myself if I could believe 
myself capable of acquiring the confidence of any by means so 

This letter, so characteristic of Jackson's mind, was well 
adapted to his object. The military argument appealed to all 
voters, and the home market theory pleased the buoyant West. 
It did not convince the planters of the South and the theoretical 
free traders elsewhere, but these were either hopelessly attached 
to Crawford or safely led into the fold through their devotion 
to Calhoun. Moreover, Jackson beheved in what he wrote; 
his entire honesty will reUeve from the imputation of self-con- 
ceit the flamboyant sentiment with which he closed the letter. 


The reference to the moneyed aristocracy was at once an echo 
of 1798 and a prophecy of 1832. 

When the letter was pubhshed the expression, "judicious 
tariff" caught the eye of the public. It strengthened the im- 
pression, already created by the letters to Monroe, that the 
author was not a man of extreme views. Clay perceived the 
force of the utterance and when he heard of it shrugged his 
shoulders and exclaimed, "Well, by — , I am in favor of an 
injudicious tarifE!'" 

Jackson's dilemma during the discussion of the tariff bill 
is illustrated by the following story in Van Buren's unpublished 
autobiography. A proposition to impose a duty of four and a 
half cents a yard on cotton bagging, the chief factory of which 
was in Lexington, Ky., was opposed strongly by the supporters 
of Crawford and Calhoun. Jackson's Southern friends fre- 
quently called him into the side aisles to urge him to vote for 
a motion by Macon to strike out the proposed duty. Although 
opposed to the particular duty, he favored the biU and feared 
that to amend it in one clause would lead to general revision. 
Van Buren's seat was on the side aisle, and he necessarily heard 
these repeated consultations. When Macon's amendment was 
put, both Tennessee senators voted "nay," and it was defeated 
by a vote of twenty-two to twenty-three. Suddenly realizing 
that his vote, if cast in the affirmative, would secure an opposite 
result, Jackson turned to Van Buren and exclaimed, "You 
give way, sir!" The New Yorker refused, and in a few minutes 
his interlocutor, realizing the impropriety of his demand, re- 
turned with an apology. But some of his supporters declared 
that Van Buren's vote was a trick to make Southerners think 
that Jackson had defeated the amendment, an imputation which 
was stoutly denied by the crafty little Northerner, whose own 
friends were disposed to boast of it as a mark of their leader's 

iVan Buren, Autohiography,'!., 29, Van Buren Mss. 


sagacity. All this happened when the tariff bill of 1824 was 
before the committee of the whole; when it came before the 
senate, Jackson and Holmes, of Maine, changed their votes on 
the same amendment and the duty on cotton bagging was 
stricken out.' 

In September, 1823, Crawford was stricken with paralysis 
and for a year his condition was precarious. If he should die 
who would get his "old republican" support? Would it be 
Clay, the opponent of the administration and champion of a 
protective tarifif? or Adams, whose New England reserve aroused 
no enthusiasm in the South? or Jackson, supporter of the ad- 
ministration, milder than Clay on the tariff question, and long 
a friend of Monroe, but a relentless enemy of Crawford? The 
situation was interesting, and perplexing. Crawford's friends 
asserted, — as it turned out, truthfully — that their leader would 
not die, they minimized the seriousness of his iUness, and when, 
two months before, Election Day, he began to mend, their spirits 
and their confidence returned. 

But his improvement did not make his election more probable. 
It only made it more certain that neither of the four candidates 
would have a majority of the electoral college, and that the 
ultimate choice would fall in the house of representatives, 
where the state delegations voting each as a unit select for 
President one of the three highest in the electoral college. Who 
would be the three fortunate ones? The slow-coming election 
returns at last answered the question. Jackson had ninety- 
nine electoral votes, Adams eighty-four, Crawford forty-one, 
and Clay thirty-seven. Calhoun was safely elected vice-presi- 
dent, but the contest for the presidency entered a second and 
more exciting stage. 

>Vin Buren, AutcHosrapky, I., as, VaQ Buren Mss.; Annals of i8th Congress, ist session, Volume I., 708, 733 



Or THE three candidates whose names now went before the 
house of representatives Crawford was eliminated by the 
state of his health. He barely held the states committed to 
him by undeviating loyalty and could not expect to draw from 
either of the other candidates. Of the other two, Adams, pa- 
triotic and fearless, was an educated man, long experienced in 
poKtical affairs, and in sympathy with the best traditions of 
statesmanship. Jackson, equally patriotic and honest, was 
uneducated, inexperienced in national politics, and lacking in 
judgment and self-control. An intelligent man actuated solely 
by love of country might well prefer the former. 

But the choice was not to be made under such happy con- 
ditions. Each candidate had a group of managers who worked 
in his behalf, and who, at the same time, had eyes on their own 
proper advancement. They were practical poMticians and 
planned to get votes for their leaders by any reasonable means. 
Flattery, promises of future support, and threats of future op- 
position were their ordinary arguments. The candidates them- 
selves cannot be charged with participation in this process of 
manipulation. They must have known the game too well to 
take open part in it; but it is inconceivable that they were 
ignorant of what transpired. 

There were then twenty-four states in the union, and in the 
house, the winning candidate must control the delegations of 
thirteen of them. Clay, long speaker and leader of a devoted 
group of representatives, could influence enough delegations to 



determine the result. He and his followers at once became 
objects of solicitude to all the other parties. His own letter 
cleverly describes the situation: 

I am sometimes touched gently on the shoulder by a friend, 
for example, of General Jackson, who will thus address me: 
"My dear sir, all my dependence is upon you; don't disappoint 
us, you know our partiality was for you next to the hero, and 
how much we want a Western President." Immediately after, 
a friend of Mr. Crawford will accost me: "The hopes of the Re- 
publican party are concentrated on you; for God's sake pre- 
serve it. If you had been returned instead of Mr. Crawford, 
every man of us would have supported you to the last hour. We 
consider him and you as the only genuinely Republican candi- 
dates." Next a friend of Mr. Adams comes with tears in his 
eyes:' "Sir, Mr. Adams has always had the greatest respect for 
you, and admiration of your talents. There is no station to 
which you are not equal. Most undoubtedly, you are the 
second choice of New England, and I pray you to consider seri- 
ously whether the public good and your own future interests 
do not point most distinctly to the choice which ought to be 
made?" How can one withstand all this disinterested homage 
and kindness?' 

Politics, indeed, make strange bed-fellows, and the strenuous 
Jackson was not exempt from the application of the rule. The 
preceding year, he made friends with Thomas Hart Benton, 
whose views and temperament made him a Jackson follower, 
and who was as much interested in the reconciUation as the 
Tennesseean. Benton, formerly for Clay, was now won over 
and labored hard to carry the Missouri representative for Jack- 
son. Another scheme was to bring Jackson and Crawford 
together. The health of the latter prevented an open meeting, 
but the men were induced to say pleasant things about each 

'There is an allusion here to Adams's watering eyes. 
'Colton, Private Correspondence of Clay, 109. 


other and Mrs. Crawford called on Mrs. Jackson, from 
which political lieutenants deduced the most reassuring 

In the winter of 1824-5, friends undertook the greater task 
of establishing cordial relations between the general and the 
President-maker. Clay and Jackson were brought together at 
a dinner, from which the former drove home in the carriage of 
the latter; then each gave a dinner to the other, and afterward 
they met with appearances of good will. The advances came 
from Jackson's side, but it is not known how much he and how 
much his managers were responsible for them. He seems to 
have believed in the genuine good will of his rival, and was no 
doubt in a position to offer him a place in the cabinet if the elec- 
tion resulted favorably. While Clay had opposed Adams's 
policies during Monroe's administration, he had declared that 
Jackson was personally unfit for the presidency. He must, 
therefore, have found it more difi&cult to come around to the 
latter than to the former. 

But Clay's mind was made up early in the contest, certainly 
before the middle of December. January 8th, he announced 
to his intimates that he would go for Adams. He might have 
justified himself on the ground of the superior fitness of Adams; 
but he chose the less defensible position that he would save the 
country from the "dangerous precedent of elevating, in this 
early stage of the Republic, a military chieftain, merely because 
he has won a great victory. " " As a friend of liberty, " he writes 
to Brooke with an eye to publication, "and to the permanence 
of our institutions, I cannot consent in this early stage of their 
existence, by contributing to the election of a military chieftain, 
to give the strongest guaranty that the Republic will march in 
the fatal road, which has conducted every republic to ruin." 

'John Branch to Colonel William Polk, January 25, 1825; Mss. in possession of William H. Hoyt, New York 


"My friends," he says in another letter, "entertain the beUef 
that their kind wishes toward me will in the end be more likely 
to be accomplished by so bestowing their votes [i. e., on Adams]. 
I have, however, most earnestly entreated them to throw me 
out of their consideration in bringing their judgments to a final 
conclusion, and to look and be guided solely by the pubHc good.'" 

Clay's fine self-denial need not detain us long. He was a 
practical poUtician and as keen in his own interests as his heu- 
tenants. He knew his advantages from the election of Adams. 
The New Englander was not likely to become a permanent 
party leader. He had little strength outside of New England, 
and the more popular Clay might fairly hope that a union with 
him would lead to the succession. The growing popularity 
of the tariff. Clay's pet measure, in the region normally for 
Adams, gave additional reason for such an alliance, and to it 
may be added the Kentuckian's feeUng for the capable classes 
as against the revived doctrines of popular government for which 
Jackson stood. On the other hand, cooperation with Jackson 
was difl&cult; for both were Western men and neither was willing 
to take a subordinate position in a combination. Moreover, 
Calhoun was already in coalition with Jackson and it was gen- 
erally admitted that he was to be heir apparent to that leader. 
These and other practical considerations, which were well known 
to his supporters and which seem clear to the historian, must 
have been thoroughly understood by Clay when he made up 
his mind that the interests of the country demanded the election 
of Adams. 

Clay did not avow his intentions until shortly before Feb- 
ruary 9th, the date set for the vote in the house of representa- 
tives. In the meantime there was much discussion, each side 
thinking it had a chance,' and in it, Jackson's followers advanced 

'Colton, Primte Cornstondmce of Clay, no, in, 112. 

'January 7, Macon thought Jackson's prospect the best and Cobb, of Georgia, was uncertain on January 
15. See Shipp, Life of Crawford, 179- 


the claim that he was entitled to be considered the people's fa- 
vorite, because he had the largest number of electoral votes and 
because he probably received the largest popular vote; but 
there is little certainty about the latter statement, since six 
states chose electors by legislatures, and in those states it was 
impossible to estimate the popular vote. Jackson's advocates 
made much of the argument. They went so far as to say that 
the will of the people would be defeated if their candidate was 
set aside, and this, they said, was in spirit, if not in fact, a vio- 
lation of the constitution, which intended that the people should 
choose the President. The argument was weak; the constitution 
did not provide for elections by the people, and it was clear that 
if the majority of the people had wanted Jackson above the other 
candidates, they would have expressed themselves accordingly 
in the choice of electors. But the contention was popularly 
plausible. It had no influence on the politicians in Washington, 
and its advocates probably expected as much, but it impressed 
the people at large, with whom the hero of New Orleans was in- 
creasingly influential. It served to support the feeling, skilfully 
stimulated by the supporters of the friend of the masses, that the 
corrupt manipulators of affairs at the centre of government no 
longer cared for the will or the interests of the people. The 
votes finally given by the states of Illinois and Missouri give 
some color of truth to the charge. 

Jackson watched these affairs from his seat in the senate with 
silent interest. EasUy suspicious of his opponents and confiding 
in his friends, he saw no other intrigues than those directed 
against him. What he observed filled him with horror. "I 
would rather," he exclaimed, "remain a plain cultivator of the 
soil as I am, than to occupy that which is truly the first ofl&ce 
in the world, if the voice of the nation was against it. " ' He was 

^Jackson to S. Swartwout, December 14, 1824, Jackson Mas. 


then living with Mrs. Jackson at the same hotel at which La- 
fayette, on his famous visit to America, was hving, and he found 
much to interest him in the company of the revolutionary hero. 
There is evidence, too, that his strength of character made a 
strong impression on the Frenchman. His position made him 
a man of note, but, through natural qualities, he was distin- 
guished. His bearing was good, he avoided complicity in the 
intrigues of the day, he asserted with an earnestness which carried 
conviction the loftiest political ideals, and he practised with all 
sincerity the simpler duties of private life. His shortcomings 
of inexperience and bad temper did not appear to the casual 
observer, and his outspoken frankness gave him apparent ad- 
vantage over the busy politicians around him. 

Much has been said about Mrs. Jackson's social capacity, and 
her appearance in Washington aroused great interest. The 
following naive extract from the letter of a Jackson man shows 
what impression she made: 

The visit of Mrs. Jackson to this place has given a damper 
to those who have used her as an argument against him (Jackson). 
She has proven the falsity of the thousand slanders, which have 
been industriously circulated of her awkwardness, ignorance 
and indecorum. I have been made acquainted with her and 
find her striking characteristics to be, an unaffected simpHcity 
of manners, with great goodness of heart. So far from being 
denied the attentions usually extended to strangers, as was pre- 
dicted, she has been overpowered by the civilities of all parties. 
Policy makes it necessary that they should thus demean them- 
selves toward her for they will not be forgotten by her husband, 
who deny her the rights of a stranger. The old General's 
health is very delicate, owing to which, he seldom goes into 
company of an evenuig. At General Brown's he was on the 
night of the "8th January" and received more court than 
all the company beside. Several buildings were illuminated 
in the neighborhood of his lodgings and an artillery company 


at night turned out and fired him a salute over a con- 
flagration of tar barrels.' 

Among those men who actively tried to elect General Jackson, 
was George Kremer, of Pennsylvania, destined to play a con- 
spicuous part in the intrigues of the day. He was a man of the 
people, who had won the confidence of his constituents by his 
outspoken denunciations of his opponents, an extreme product 
of the new movement. He was a man of originality and 
boldness, and in spite of poor educational advantages and 
peculiarities of manner, he won influence in his party. But 
circumstances were about to thrust him into an adventure for 
which neither his physical nor moral courage was adequate. 

Kremer was an enthusiastic admirer of Jackson and suspicious 
and credulous enough to take seriously the charges of corruptioa 
which were uttered by his party against their opponents. Early 
in January, James Buchanan, also of Pennsylvania, told Kremer 
in apparent alarm, if we may accept Kremer's story, that as a 
friend of Clay, he knew a great intrigue was in progress about 
which he thought Jackson ought to be informed, and that if he 
was as good a friend of Jackson as Kremer, he would inform him. 
The plot, he said, was that Adams's friends were proposing to 
Clay's supporters to get the secretaryship of state for Clay if he 
would use his influence for the Eastern candidate. Buchanan 
said Jackson was in great danger unless he would make the same 
offer to Clay, since the Adams men proclaimed that Jackson, 
if successful, would surely keep Adams secretary of state. 
Buchanan, therefore, suggested that the Tennesseean at least 
authorize the assurance that he, as President, would not continue 
the present incumbent. To this proposition, Kremer says he 
returned the answer that his candidate would make no promises 
and if elected, it must be by principle. His statement was 

■John S. Ellis, January ii, 1825, Mss. in possession of William H. Hoyt, of New York City. 


embodied in a letter to Jackson, and to it he appended the follow- 
ing postscript : " Mr. Buchanan stated that him and Mr. Clay have 
become great friends this winter, this he said as I thought to 
inform on my mind the authority from whence he had derived 
his information. " ' 

So far Mr. Kremer. When the matter became public contro- 
versy, Buchanan was appealed to, and made the following 

On the 30th of December, 1824 (I am able to fix the time, 
not only from my own recollection, but from letters which I 
wrote on that day, on the day following, and on the 2nd of 
January, 1825), I called upon General Jackson. After the com- 
pany had left him, by which I foimd him surrounded, he asked 
me to take a walk with him; and, while we were walking together 
upon the street, I introduced the subject. I told him I wished 
to ask him a question in relation to the Presidential election; 
that I knew he was unwilling to converse upon the subject; that, 
therefore, if he deemed the question improper, he might refuse 
to give it an answer: that my only motive in asking it, was 
friendship for him, and I trusted he would excuse me for thus 
introducing a subject about which I knew he wished to be silent. 
His reply was complimentary to myself, and accompanied with a 
request that 1 would proceed. I then stated to him there was a 
report in circulation, that he had determined he would appoint 
Mr. Adams Secretary of State, in case he were elected President, 
and that I wished to ascertain from him whether he had ever in- 
timated such an intention; that he must at once perceive how in- 
jurious to his election such a report might be; that no doubt there 
were several able and ambitious men in the country, among 
whom, I thought Mr. Clay might be included, who were aspiring 
to that ofl&ce; and, if it were beheved he had already determined 
to appoint his chief competitor, it might have a most unhappy 
effect upon their exertions, and those of their friends; that, imless 
he had so determmed, I thought this report should be promptly 
contradicted imder his own authority. . . . After I had 

'Kremer to Jackson, March 6, 1825, Jackson Mss. 


finished the General declared he had not the least objection to 
answer my question; that he thought well of Mr. Adams, but he 
never said or intimated that he would, or would not, appoint 
him Secretary of State; that these were secrets he would keep 
to himself — he would conceal them from the very hairs of his 

Years later, Jackson declared that Buchanan did not do him 
fuU justice and repeated the charge, which is clear in Kremer's 
letter, that Buchanan said it was necessary to fight Adams's 
supporters with their own weapons, that is, to make an offer to 
Clay. On the face of the matter, it seems that Buchanan did 
seek to get from Jackson a statement which he could use with 
the Clay men, and that having failed in his purpose, he sought 
a few days later to induce Kremer to move Jackson to the same 
purpose. How much he had in heart a bargain with Clay is 
seen by a statement of the latter in his old age. Buchanan, he 
said, called at his lodgings where the two were together in the 
presence of Letcher, of Kentucky. Clay, speaking of himself 
in the third person, tells us what happened: 

Shortly after Mr. Buchanan's entry into the room, he in- 
troduced the subject of the approaching Presidential election, 
and spoke of the certainty of the election of his favorite (Jackson), 
adding that "he woidd form the most splendid cabinet that the 
country had ever had." Mr. Letcher asked, "How could he have 
one more distinguished than that of Mr. Jefferson, in which 
were both Madison and Gallatin? Where would he be able to 
find equally eminent men?" Mr. Buchanan replied that he 
"would not go out of this room for a Secretary of State," looking 
at Mr. Clay. This gentleman playfully remarked that "he 
thought there was no timber there fit for a cabinet officer, un- 
less it was Mr. Buchanan himself." Mr. Clay, while he was so 
hotly assailed with the charge of bargain, intrigue, and corruption, 

■Buchanan to the Editor of the Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Journal. See Buchanan^s Writingi (Moore, 
Editor), I., 963-7; also Farton, Jackson, III., 114. 


during the administration of Mr. Adams, notified Mr. Buchanan 
of his intention to publish the above occurrence; but, by the 
earnest entreaties of that gentleman, he was induced to 
forbear doing so.' 

None of this evidence shows that either Jackson, Clay, or 
Adams was bargaining for the presidency. But it made it pretty 
certain that Mr. Buchanan had his dreams, and that his at- 
tempt to realize them was clumsily made. 

Clay's intention to support Adams was known to intimate 
friends by the middle of December,' and a rumor to that effect 
was abroad. The Jackson party discounted it at first, but as 
February 9th, the day of the final choice, approached, they began 
to reahze its truth. They now became very bitter toward 
Clay, partly desiring, as it seems, to shake some of his support 
out of his hands and partly to take vengeance on him for his 
opposition. For some days the air was full of charges, and on 
January 28, 1825, appeared in the Columbian Observer, of Phil- 
adelphia, an imsigned letter, in which was the following in- 

For some time past, the friends of Clay have hinted that 
they, like the Swiss, would fight for those who pay best. Over- 
tures were said to have been made by the friends of Adams to 
the friends of Clay, offering him the appointment of Secretary 
of State, for his aid to elect Adams. And the friends of Clay gave 
the information to the friends of Jackson, and hinted that if the 
friends of Jackson would offer the same price, they would close 
with them. But none of the friends of Jackson would descend 
to such mean barter and sale. It was not beheved by any of 
the friends of Jackson that this contract would be ratified by 
the members from the States which had voted for Clay. I was 
of opinion, when I first heard of this transaction, that men, pro- 
fessing any honorable principles, could not, or would not be 

'Colton, Life of Clay, I., 418. 
'Benton, Thirty Years' View, I., 48. 


transferred, like the planter does his negroes, or the farmer does 
his team of horses. No alarm was excited. We believed the 
repubhc was safe. The nation having delivered Jackson into 
the hands of Congress, backed by a large majority of their votes, 
there was on my mind no doubt that Congress would respond 
to the will of the nation by electing the individual they had de- 
clared to be their choice. Contrary to this expectation, it is 
now ascertained to a certainty that Henry Clay has transferred 
his interest to John Quincy Adams. As a consideration for 
this abandonment of duty to his constituents, it is said and be- 
lieved, should this unholy coalition prevail. Clay is to be ap- 
pointed Secretary of State. 

This charge ought not to have surprised an experienced poli- 
tician, but the language in which it was made, was calculated to 
annoy. It is easy to explain it as the vaporing of an uncouth 
popular leader; but how can we excuse the violence of Clay's 
reply, February ist, in the National Intelligencer} Rewrote: 

The editor of one of those prints, ushered forth in Phila- 
delphia, called the Columbian Observer, for which I do not 
subscribe, and which I have never ordered, has had the 
impudence to transmit to me his vile paper of the 28th instant. 
In this number is inserted a letter purporting to have been written 
from this city, on the 25th instant, by a member of the house of 
representatives, belonging to the Pennsylvania delegation. I 
believe it to be a forgery; but if it be genuine, I pronounce the 
member, whoever he may be, a base and infamous calimaniator, 
a dastard and liar; and if he dare unveil himself, and avow his 
name, I will hold him responsible, as I here admit myself to be, 
to all the laws which govern and regulate men of honor.' 

Two days later Kremer in the same newspaper tendered his 
respects to the Honorable Henry Clay, acknowledged the author- , 
ship of the letter in the Columbian Observer, offered to prove its 
truth, and, saying nothing about the laws of honor, planted 

'Colton, Lije of Clay, I., 297. 


himself behind the bulwark of public duty, proclaiming that as a 
representative of the people he would "not fear to 'cry aloud and 
spare not,' when their rights and privileges are at stake. " Clay 
could hardly insist on a duel with the eccentric Kremer, whose 
card made no reference to the speaker's challenge. He con- 
tented himself with demanding in the house a full investigation 
of the charges against him and added with some show of contempt 
that "emanating from such a source as they did, this was the 
only notice which he could take of them." When he sat down, 
Forsyth, of Georgia, a Crawford man, moved that a select 
committee of investigation be appointed, and after two days' 
debate, the motion was carried and a cormnittee was chosen from 
the followers of Adams, who was charged with complicity in the 
bargaining, and from the supporters of Crawford, Jackson's most 
bitter enemy. Had they been taken from other factions they 
must have been partisans of either Clay or Jackson, which shows 
that the situation was difficult. 

When Clay demanded an investigation, Kremer rose at once 
to promise that every portion of his charges should be proved to 
the satisfaction of the house. But when svmamoned before the 
committee to give evidence, he refused to attend. He attempted 
to justify himself in a long letter, which he evidently did not 
write and which with some probability has been attributed to 
S. D. Ingham.' The committee could not proceed without the 
chief witness, and the investigation collapsed. 

Kremer lacked courage for a fight, and he had no case; but 
had he been a better fighter, he might have been appalled by the 
situation which presented itself. His charge was made against 
some of the friends of Clay, but the Kentuckian with character- 
istic magnanimity shouldered the responsibility by asking that he 
be investigated. But in the debate on the motion to appoint a 

'Kremer's reply is in Colton, Lije of Clay, I., 3oy. 


committee, it became evident that in the minds of many Kremer 
himself was on trial, and that if he failed to satisfy the committee, 
he might expect punishment for maliciously attacking a high 
ofl&cer of the house. Moreover, it would be difl&cult to prove 
his charge, since his witnesses, congressmen friendly to Clay> 
would hardly care to repeat to the committee the rumors out of 
which Kremer had formed his opinion. If the charges failed, 
Jackson's cause would be discredited with those necessary fol- 
lowers of Clay without whom he could not be elected. This 
last phase of the question must have appealed strongly to Jack- 
son's managers; and it is not improbable that at this stage they 
took the whole case out of Kremer's hands. The affair, which 
he probably opened himself with the cognizance of friends, 
was become so large that he might well retreat while he 

Kremer justified his refusal on the ground that it was pro- 
posed to hold him responsible for communicating proper in- 
formation to his constituents. Such a proposal, said he, was 
neither constitutional nor expedient, and he denied the juris- 
diction of the house in the matter. He asserted that the con- 
tention that a member might not criticize the poUtical action of 
a high ofi&cer of the house was worse than the sedition law of 
1798. "It may be proper to remark," he added, "in explana- 
tion of the admission which I may seem to have made of its 
jurisdiction: Whatever assent I may have given, was done 
hastily, relying on the conscious rectitude of my conduct, and 
regarding my own case, without having reflected duly, on the 
dangerous principles involved in the proceedings, and cannot 
therefore be considered as a waiver of my rights." He closed 
by asking that the case be left to the American people or to the 
courts. As applied to Kremer's responsibility, this argument has 
a certain plausibility, although it falls before the undoubted 
right of the house to discipline its own members. But he was 


not the defendant, and his reply has no bearing on the question 
of Clay's responsibiUty. 

In the meantime, the work of the politicians was being brought 
to a close. When congress convened, Adams was sure of Mary- 
land and New England, seven votes. Jackson felt certain of 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South CaroKna, Indiana, 
Alabama, and Mississippi. Crawford counted on Georgia, 
Virginia, and Delaware, and he controlled the North CaroUna 
delegation, although the electoral vote of that state was for 
Jackson. His supporters hoped that in case of a deadlock, he 
might have a chance at the prize or cast the deciding vote in 
favor of one of the other candidates. Of the six other states 
Clay could carry the delegations of Ohio, whose electoral vote 
he also had; Kentucky, in spite of instructions for Jackson by 
the legislature; and Louisiana, which cast its electoral vote for 
Jackson. In New York, whose electoral vote was for Adams, 
the representatives were divided, seventeen for Adams, two for 
Jackson, and fifteen for Crawford, so that there was Ukely to be 
a deadlock in the delegation. Ilhnois cast its electoral vote for 
Jackson and its one representative, D. P. Cook, announced soon 
after his arrival in Washington that he should consider this as 
instructions. But he was known to favor Adams on personal 
grounds, and the friends of that gentleman were able to induce 
him to change his mind. Missouri, the other state, cast its 
electoral vote for Clay, but when he was out of the race, the 
sentiment of the state turned to Jackson. It was represented 
in the house by a single delegate, John Scott, who for a time was 
undecided. Benton, in the senate, was strongly for Jackson and 
labored hard with Scott but failed at last, because, as is alleged, 
the delegate was promised certain favors in regard to the public 
printing with the assurance that his brother should not be re- 
moved from a federal judgeship for taking part in a recent duel.. 

lAdamsy Memoirs, VI., 472, 473- 


By this means, Adams acquired five states, four of which came 
through Clay's influence, and had altogether twelve, just half 
of the total number. 

Such was the situation when the house on February 9th took its 
first vote. It was generally expected that the result would be 
Adams twelve, Jackson seven, Crawford four, with New York 
divided; and pohticians were actively planning for future ballots. 
Rumor said that eventually Crawford would join Jackson, mak- 
ing eleven votes, with New York evenly divided between Jackson 
and Adams, a most interesting situation. But aU these pros- 
pects vanished on the first ballot, when by the change of one 
Crawford representative. New York went for Adams, who thus 
received thirteen votes and was declared elected. Clay is 
called the president-maker of 1825, and either Cook or Scott 
might have changed the result, but the last necessary touch to 
complete the election was actually given by this member of the 
New York delegation. Martin Van Buren in his unpublished 
autobiography gives a singular explanation of the incident. 

One of the New York representatives was Stephen van Rensse- 
laer, very wealthy and very pious. He was a brother-in-law of 
Alexander Hamilton and therefore much opposed to the Adams 
famUy. Van Buren, a Crawford leader, was anxious to prevent 
an election on the first ballot, probably in order to have the credit 
of throwing necessary votes to Adams on a later ballot.' He 
relied on Van Rensselaer, who declared more than once that he 
would not vote for Adams. But on the morning of the ninth 
as Van Rensselaer went up to the capitol he fell into the hands of 
Clay and Webster, who beset him strongly with such argvmients 
as would appeal to a man of wealth and religious conviction. 
His purpose was shaken and he began to ask himself if he had a 
right to settle so important a matter on personal grounds. He 
formed the resolve that he would not vote for Adams on the 

< Van Buren does not admit this purpose, but Hammond, Political Bislory of New York, II., 190, says he 
had it on the best authority. See also Alexander, Political History of New York, I., 341-343. 


first ballot, whatever he might do later on. " He took his seat,' ' 
says Van Buren, who had the story from Van Rensselaer him- 
self, "fully resolved to vote for Mr. Crawford, but before the 
box reached him, he dropped his head upon the edge of his desk 
and made a brief appeal to his Maker for guidance in the matter 
— a practice he frequently observed on great emergencies — 
and when he removed his hand from his eyes, he saw on the 
floor directly before him a ticket bearing the name of John Quincy 
Adams. This occurrence at the moment of great excitement and 
anxiety, he was led to regard as an answer to his appeal, and 
taking up the ticket, he put it in the box. In this way, it was 
that Mr. Adams was made President.'" 

The election of 1825 was an unusual opportunity for intrigue. 
Never before and but once since has so great a prize been at the 
disposal of political manipulators. Considering the situation 
in all its possibilities, the issue was as good as could have been 
expected. Adams, the man chosen, was the best candidate, 
and the country was satisfied with the choice. 

Jackson himself showed no resentment until he knew Clay 
would go into the cabinet. His old friendship for Adams lasted 
throughout the campaign, and as late as July 4, 1824, he ex- 
pressed his confidence in him, adding, "There is no conduct of 
Hypocritical friends that can alter these feelings. " ' When his 
friends first spoke of offers of bargains, he believed that Adams 
had no part in them. On the evening of February 9th, the two 
men came face to face at a presidential levee, Jackson with a 
lady on his right arm. Bystanders were curious to see what 
would happen. Each man hesitated a moment, and then the 
tall general stepping forward said heartily: "How do you do 
Mr. Adams? I give you my left hand, for the right, as you see, 
is devoted to the fair : I hope you are very well, sir. ' ' To which 

'Van Buren's Autobiography, I, 17, Van Buren Mss. 
'Jackson to Judge Fulton, July 4, 1824, Jackson Mas. 


'the other rephed coolly, "Very weU, sir: I hope General Jackson 
is well"; and with that they resumed their progress. Observers 
concluded that the Westerner took the better part in the 

February 14th, he learned that Clay would be secretary of 
state and turned bitterly against Adams. "I have, as you 
know," he wrote to Lewis, "always thought Mr. Adams an 
honest, virtuous man, and had he spurned from him those men 
who have abandoned those principles they have always advo- 
cated, that the people have a right to govern, and that their 
will should be always obeyed by their constituents, I should 
still have viewed him as an honest man; and that the rumors of 
bargain and sale was unknown to him. " ' 

In this letter Jackson rests his opposition to Adams chiefly 
on other grounds than the bargain with Clay; and the same is 
true of a letter he wrote to Swartwout two days later." On 
inauguration day he was the first to congratulate the new Presi- 
dent, which elicited marked approval from the press of the 
country. But Clay's nomination for secretary of state seemed 
to him to confirm all his suspicions, and he began openly and 
bitterly to denounce what he called a corrupt bargain. Six 
months later, when the country rang with the controversy, he 
recounted his progress in the matter as follows: 

I had esteemed him (Adams), as a virtuous, able and honest 
man; and when rumor was stamping the sudden union of his 
and the friends of Mr. Clay with intrigue, barter and bargain 
I did not, nay, I could not believe that Mr. Adams participated 
in a management deserving such epithets. Accordingly when the 
election was terminated, I manifested publicly a continuation 
of the same high opinion of his virtue, and of course my dis- 
belief of his having had knowledge of the pledges which many 

'Jackson to W. B. Lewis, February 14 and 20, 1825, in Parton, Lije of Jackson, HI., 73, and Ms3. collectior 
of New York Public Library. 
■Jackson to Swartwout, February 22, 1825, in Parton, Jackson, III., 75, and in Jackson Mss. 


men of high standing boldly asserted to be the price of his* 
election. But when these strange rumors became facts, when 
the predicted stipulation was promptly fulfilled, and Mr. Clay 
was secretary of state, the inferrence was irresistible. . . . 
From that moment I withdrew all intercourse with him, not how- 
ever, to oppose his administration when I think it useful to the 

Here Jackson speaks of his public attitude toward Adams: 
a private letter written at the time of the inauguration shows a 
less dignified state of mind. He says: 

Yesterday Mr. Adams was inaugurated amidst a vast 
assemblage of citizens, having been escorted to the capitol 
with the pomp and ceremony of guns and drums not very con- 
sistent in my humble opinion with the character of the occasion 
Twenty-four years ago, when Mr. Jefferson was inducted into 
office, no such machinery was called in to give solemnity to the 
scene. He rode his own horse and hitched himself [sic^ to the 
inclosure. But it seems that times are changing. I hope it is 
not so with the principles that are to characterise the adminis- 
tration of justice and constitutional law. These, in my fervent 
prayers for the prosperity and good of our country, will remain 
unaltered, based upon the sovereignty of the People, and adorned 
with no forms or ceremonies, save those which their happiness 
and freedom shall command.' 

Adams's diary contains interesting evidence about his relations 
with Clay during this famous winter, and it must be summed up 
here, even at the risk of making the subject appear tedious. 
For example, Adams visited James Barbour, senator from Vir- 
ginia, to know how that important state would vote. He was 
assured that it would support Crawford at first and in no event 

'Jackson to H. Lee, October 7, 1825, Jackson Mss. 

Of course the word " hitched " is used intransitively. The story that Jefferson tied his horw to the fence 
is discredited by the best evidence. 
•Jackson to Swartwout, March s, 182s, a copy, Jackson Mss. 


would go for a military chieftain.' The reply illustrates the 
feeling of utter hostility which the old-line repubUcans, Vir- 
ginia at their head, had for the new democratic-republican 
movement which centered around Jackson and Calhoun. Clay 
was willing enough to be president-maker and was anxious to 
secure an election on the first ballot, before Crawford's sup- 
porters, who must support their candidate at first, could have a 
chance to cast the deciding votes. 

December 17, Letcher, of Kentucky, Clay's "mess-mate," 
called on Adams. Speaking as a friend of Clay, but on his own 
authority, he inquired as to Adams's sentiments toward that 
gentleman. The reply was reassuring: He once felt Clay had 
treated him badly and was partly responsible for Jonathan Rus- 
sell's attack in regard to the treaty of Ghent; "but having com- 
pletely repelled that attack, I feel no animosity toward any 
person concerned in it." He was assured that Clay felt no 
hostility toward him, and the conversation ran on for some 
time, the drift being, says the diary, "that Clay would willingly 
support me if he could thereby serve himself, and the substance 
of his meaning was, that if Clay's friends could know that he 
could have a prominent share in the administration, that might 
induce them to vote for me, even in the face of instructions." 
It is one of the provoking features of this persistent diary that 
it rarely tells what Adams said to the man who interviewed him. 
In this case, we are only told, " In my answers to him, I spoke in 
more general terms.'" 

December 23d, came Letcher again, saying he was anxious that 
Adams should have the votes of Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, In- 
diana, Missouri, and Louisiana, that is, all the states which the 
Clay men pretended to control. Here the diary is most tan- 
talizing; for it only says that Adams observed that he supposed 

■Aduns, Umunfs, VI., 466. 
nhid, VI., 416. 


he could not even get the vote of Kentucky, and that Letcher 
rephed that this state was " uncommitted. " ' This offer would 
mean the presidency on the first ballot! Can we think it only 
evoked a shrug from one man and a reassuring nod from the 

Clay must have formed a favorable opinion from these over- 
tures; for on January 9th, he asked for an interview, and, although 
it was Sunday, Adams gave him the whole evening. He an- 
nounced that he preferred Adams for President, but that, without 
any reference to himself personally, he would Uke to know his 
host's views on certain public affairs. Many questions must have 
been discussed between the two men, but the diary says nothing 
about them. It does not even tell us what were the matters 
about which Clay desired Adams's opinion. January 29th, 
Clay called again, "and sat with me a couple of hours discussing 
all the prospects and probabilities of the Presidential election. 
He spoke to me with the utmost freedom of men and things. " 
Evidently the two men were now equal political partners.' 

In these four interviews, the most interesting things were 
conmiunicated. They probably convinced Adams that he would 
be President if Clay were made secretary of state. He believed 
that this would be a fit appointment. What did he say in reply? 
We are not told specifically. It could not have been discourag- 
ing to Clay, or he would not have sought his first interviews. 
Can it be doubted that there was about this matter a reasonable 
understanding between the three men, Letcher, Clay, and Adams, 
all of them experienced players of the pohtical game? 

The day after the election, Adams avowed to persons con- 
cerned that he would ask Clay to become secretary of state. 
Next day he received a defiance from Calhoim: If the Kentuckian 
went into the cabinet, a determined opposition to the new 

'Adams, Uaiuirs \1„ Ki'- 
nbid.Yi., 464. 48s. 


administration would be formed with Jackson's name at its 
head, and with New York doubtful, Virginia in opposition 
(through the antagonism of the Crawford following to Clay), 
the West generally leaning to Jackson; and, the rest of the South 
turning away from the North, it would make a formidable 
combination and Adams would be left with no reliance except 
New England. Calhoun went so far as to name the cabinet, 
which would suit him: Poinsett, Cheves, John McLean, and 
Southard, all Calhoun supporters, and not one from the Jackson 
wing of the combination. Adams ever disliked Calhoun, whom 
he believed to be unscrupulous in accomplishing an inordinate 
ambition. He took this challenge as but an attempt to frighten 
him out of his design to appoint Clay; and he proceeded as he 
had determined.' 

Clay was as little to be frightened as the new President. His 
letters show that he summed up the advantages and disadvan- 
tages of an acceptance with much penetration.' As he himself 
states them, his reasons for declining seem now to be over- 
whelming. Why did not Clay understand this? Why did he 
take the weaker side? Probably because on that side was his 
bold love of battle, which overcast his judgment on more than 
one occasion. 

Clay knew of the threats to form an opposition and affected 
to disbelieve them. He was soon to know that they were real. 
The air became fuU of plans to defeat his nomination in the senate. 
It seemed that there would be a long wrangle, but at last his 
opponents contented themselves with merely voting against 
him. The result was twenty-seven for, and fifteen against, 
confirmation of the nomination, with seven senators absent. 
Jackson was one of the fifteen, and the rest were from his, or 

'Adams, Memoirs, VI., so6. It is characteristic of Adams that in spite of these threats, he appointed 
Poinsett minister to Mexico on March 7. See Calhoun Correspondence (Jameson, Ed.), 21A. 
■Clay to Brooke, February x8, 1S35, Colton, Correspondence of Clay, 114. 


Calhoun's, or Crawford's following. It was a strong vote 
in a weak cause; and it evidently rested on a deeper 
foundation than the belief that Clay had made a corrupt 
bargain with Adams. It was the initial skirmish of a long